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Fiction A Father By Any Other Name

Discussion in 'Fluff and Stories' started by Mr.Crocodile, Apr 19, 2022.

  1. Mr.Crocodile
    Saurus

    Mr.Crocodile Well-Known Member

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    When an elven eagleship is shipwrecked somewhere in the swirling swamps and mangrove forests of southern Lustria, what a wandering Lroxigor finds inside its ruins will forever change his simple life and that of the strange warmblooded hatchling he finds.

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    I wrote this piece for Lustria Unbound in a fervour after dicovering a lovely illustration by mossacannibalis over on twitter. His one drawing wholly inspired the work you are about to see. This is a fully standalone oneshot, but it exists within the continuity of my Lustria Unbound timeline.
     
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  2. Mr.Crocodile
    Saurus

    Mr.Crocodile Well-Known Member

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    Somewhere on the Swirling Swamps, Southern Lustria
    25th Day of Storm, 233th Year of Finubar’s Reign/39.13.5.15.12 10 Eb’ 15 Ch’en

    Tepexitl had been told to look for good timber, the culchan stables had been damaged by the recent spring storms, so the Skinks needed good timber to fix them. So he had gone out to look for some. The rest had asked about why he was going out before the storm was over, but Tepexitl figured that if the Skinks wanted wood, they would be happy to get it soon.

    As such, he was really happy for his find, a massive pile of already uprooted wood! It must have been a very large tree, so large that Tepexitl could not have uprooted it alone. Sadly there were no roots, those were always useful for clubs, but the bulk of the wood was split into two large chunks, each resting to the left and right of a large rock that stuck out of the mangroves like a spire.

    The wood was strange, it was covered in a very strong resin, blue and yellow, he could strip it away from the wood in chips or crack it like brittle bark, but he could not scrape it or break it by hitting it, the wood was also ridden with ropes and enormous cloths, his best guess was that the warmbloods had used them in some way to transport the wood.

    Oh, that was another thing, there were a lot of warmbloods around, most dead. One hadn’t been and it had tried to hurt him while he had his back turned and was inspecting a pile of smaller pieces of wood covered in glass shards and something that smelled sweet and looked reddish.

    The warmblood had struck his back with a blade. Tepexitl, startled, had reacted by twisting around and hitting the warmblood with his tail, the warmblood landed in a heap a short distance again, hitting a mangrove tree’s trunk. He stepped on the metal-and-cloth covered creature until it stopped punching Tepexitl’s ankles. He then used the mangrove’s trunk himself to unstick the blade from his back, rubbing his back against the wood, because his arms could not reach it.

    The rest of the warmbloods were dead, strewn around the area, broken and with many mostly under or floating on the mangrove’s salty water. He could not tell what kind of warmblood they were. None of the lizardmen back home had ever seen one themselves, they just knew the creatures’ general shape. He knew there were many types, but no one had spoken of the differences in front of him.

    They did all look very similar, so he supposed they were all of the same type, or maybe it was their blue-and-white armor hiding the traits that made them different warmblood types.

    He kept exploring the large wood chunks; he would need to go back and find the rest of his spawn-brother to help him haul even only one of the massive pieces of curved wood. He found many more wooden, metallic, glass and ceramic containers, there was meat in a few of them he enjoyed.

    But then he heard the strange calls, they were shrill and reminded him of the sounds that the tree-dwelling ozomatli made, but it could not be one of those furry fruit eating animals, because it wasn’t coming from a tree…

    Well it was coming from within the leftmost chunk of tree, so he supposed it did come from a tree, but the ozomatli preferred standing and fruit-bearing trees, and it really did not sound like any of them he had ever seen.

    So he crawled into the massive, almost cavronius, hole the warmbloods had carved into the part the sound was coming from. It was a very tight space beyond the entrance hole and he constantly scraped his head and back against the ceiling and walls. He even had to break some parts of it to get to the source of the sound, a wooden door was his last opponent.

    Wooden doors, these warmbloods were really funny.

    On the other side, beyond the many upturned pieces of carved wood and a large sack filled with down and feather and many other strange items strewn around, he found the bodies of two last warmbloods, they were on the sloped floor and had clearly clung to each other in their last moments, spawn-brothers perhaps? By this point Tepexitl could guess that the warmbloods had intended to carry off the enormous piece of lumber somewhere along the coastline to use it themselves, and that the storm had ruined their plans.

    The sound continued to wail from a bundle between the two corpses’ chests. The heap of brown cloth shook and convulsed.

    Tepexitl lifted it, and cocked his head in confusion.

    Hidden underneath laid a very small warmblood, Tepexitl knew warmbloods could be small just as how the Skinks were, but he had never considered they could be this small! The thing could probably stand on his palm.

    It was shaking and shivering, convulsing as it cried. From its head sprouted a long mane of tangled dark brown fur, and from between the fur tufts sprouted a set of long bare ears that reminded him of those of the burrow-digging tochtli.

    The tiny warblood’s face was crusty and wet with a liquid running from its eyes and mucus dripping from its snout, the creature kept its eyes closed, hugging itself and an even smaller colorful piece of cloth.

    It hadn’t noticed him, was it sick? Had the catastrophe that had killed its larger companions seriously wounded it.

    He went to grab it.

    Upon contact the creature, still wailing and with closed eyes, jumped for his hand, its tiny hands barely managing to wrap around his fingers.

    It’s wailing slightly subsided. Tepexitl cocked his head, yellow eyes peering at the vexing creature.

    He took full hold of it, his comparatively enormous hand easily grasping the entirety of the fragile body. The warmblood’s cries subsided further, its ears twitched.
    Inland Swirling Swamps, Southern Lustria
    30th Day of Storm, 233th Year of Finubar’s Reign/39.13.5.15.7 5 Manik’ 10 Ch’en


    Warmbloods, or at least his tiny warmblood, were vexing creatures. His had tried fleeing the very daybreak after he had found it, taking off seconds after waking up and noticing him. It took him all morning to track its sleeping form, huddled in between the roots of another tree. So he had simply grabbed it and held it on the crook of his arm while he hauled five trees back to the rest of his community.

    The day’s trip back to the permanent camp, built on the shadow of an ancient temple dedicated to Uxmac, was interesting, the creature squirmed and cried again but failed its half-hearted attempts to flee again, it did make holding onto it quite the challenge, nonetheless. He made careful effort not to hurt the tiny one, for he knew that there was nothing like his scales to protect it under the large brown cloth and soft cloth it wore, now thankfully dry.

    He had to give explanations once he arrived back home, and at first he did not understand why. He was simply returning with the required lumber and had merely picked up a pet along the way, remembering to tell his brothers of the massive source of wood and other interesting items on the shores. What of the little warmblood he had chosen to take care of? Many of the Skinks took care of various birds and there were always dozens of small spotted miztons huntings vermin around their home, one of the furry predators playfully exploring his finding with its whiskers..

    It had to be Skink Chief Inzipet, oldest in their encampment, who explained to him why what he had done was so notable.

    “Warmbloods are not pets, they are as clever as us and should be treated as such, this one is a pup and as such can’t be sacrificed or put to work. You are better off getting rid of it since the Elves, long-eared warmbloods, live very long and it does not make sense to feed it.” He explained.

    That… Changed things, he thought that night as he watched over the sleeping “Elf” he had taken back home, who he had managed to feed some roasted fish that day, it was slowly reclaiming its strength and that made him very happy. This wasn’t a tiny animal to play with and teach tricks like how the skinks taught words to some of their birds. This was a hatchling, a child, of one of the Second Race, Prodigals of their own merit! And since warmbloods made spawings inside of themselves(such a bizarre thing for a people to do!), the two who had covered it had probably been its progenitors…

    That was… Sad. The poor thing was alone. Tepexitl couldn’t imagine being alone without his brothers or the older Kroxigors who had taught him how to uproot trees and work the stone… Was that why it cried? Was it calling for dead or missing brothers and mentors?

    “Where can I find Elves?” He asked Elder Inzipet the next morning, after feeding more fish and water to the youngling.

    “Why do you want to know?” The Chief returned.

    “I want to return it to its own.” Tepexitl answered, pointing at the young one.

    “Well, you won’t, the only place I know off where they nest is far, far to the south beyond the Badlands and on the shores of the Frost Sea, I do not see how you could even…”

    And with that, got up, gathered some supplies (mainly his hammer) and the young one (who in turn gathered its only belonging in the form of the colorful sack) and got on his way.
    Coasts of the Nameless Badlands, Southern Lustria
    5th Day of Frost, 234th Year of Finubar’s Reign/39.13.7.1.3 12 Ak'b'a 1 Mak


    He surfaced from the salty sea water to check on Nacazpatlac. Glad to see that he was still playing in the small promontory he had left the young one in. So he submerged again.

    This had become their daily routine, they would wake up at daybreak, with him taking some time to shake off his lethargy with the heat of the summer morning sun. Then they would move southwards following the shoreline, walking along beaches, cliffs and rocky shores until midday, when he would take off to the sea and fish for their meal of the day. Over time he had learned how, in order to stay healthy, Nacazpatlac needed more than meat, long ago they had left the fruit bearing jungles of the Swirling Swamps behind, here he had to resort to helping her dig for the fat roots of local plants like the little tochtli she was.

    There! His jaws snapped around the back of a large bottom-dwelling fish, he had gotten used to looking for those, as they were poorly suited for moving quickly and relied mostly on the camouflage that they rock-like texture and coloration of their skinks provided, a camouflage he had become proficient at uncovering.

    He only had to be careful as to not jab himself with the poisonous spikes hidden in some of their fins, one incident was all he needed to learn the lesson. But as long as he bit with a wide gaping strike and held on tight, that was effectively avoidable.

    All he had to do now was return to the shoreline with the aid of his powerful tail and cook part of the ugly, flat-faced fish for the youngling. He would eat the rest after Nacazpatlac helped out by removing the bothersome quills with a knife made from one of the stones in his necklace.

    And that was what they did, once he climbed ashore the two of them made a small fire from the bundle of dried driftwood he had collected daily as they moved. The drying saltwater, a fast process thanks to the midday sun and winds, on his scales bothered him, he had gotten used to only being able to wash it off whenever they came across a stream or river, rare in this uninhabited stretch of meridional Lustria.

    And once the two of them were filled up and used the high sun hours for some napping, they got along their way for the rest of the day. Their big bundle of things slung around one of his shoulders and Nacazpatlac intermittently walked alongside him or rode on his other shoulder. It made him happy that the hatching was such a curious bundle of energy. Always going off to inspect a rock or a plant, chasing seabirds or playing with his orange-black toy. Nacazpatlac always slept with it and only on a few occasions entrusted Tepexitl with taking care of it. A task he proudly carried out.

    The Badlands were… Bad indeed, very cold at night even in the summer and dry, little in the way of trees grew here and there were no lakes either, what animals the two of them encounters were skittish and small, the reason why he had taken to fish-hunting. It was hard to understand why the Elf warmbloods had seemingly settled somewhere there, but Nacazpatlac seemed to be less affected by the numbing cold than him, especially when they kept a fire in the night. So maybe warmbloods, with their warmblood, simply could not feel the temperature? Maybe that was also why they had mostly naked skins and very impractical manes, at least Nacazpatlac took care of his by tying long strands of it into very cute rope-like bits.

    Nacazpatlac awoke him from his napping musings with a playful pat on his snout. Upon opening his eyes Tepexitl was greeted by the enchanting sight of a proud Nacazpatlac showing off the bracelet he had made by stringing shells. Well, it was a bracelet for the youngling, when Tepexitl tried it on it became a stylish ring.
    Citadel of Dusk, Nameless Badlands, Southern Lustria
    47th Day of Storm, 235th Year of Finubar’s Reign/39.13.7.16.18 2 Etz'nab' 11 Yax


    It was large, the largest stone structure Tepexitl had ever seen, even its most exterior walls were taller than the temple he had called home. He had heard of the great five Sentinels, and many of the Skinks in his commune had spoken of visiting the Hissing God…

    But himself? No, he had never seen something like the massive smooth walls of rock carved with curving arches in this place. With its battlements and high spires. He couldn’t even begin to think of how much timber it had taken to build so, so high up! No wonder the Elven travelers had made an effort to transport that massive piece of wood.

    But what was most important, the appearance of those walls reminded him of what the resin of the wood had looked like, and so did the many long pieces of cloth hanging from them remind him of the ones he had seen that fateful storm. Those had been golden, white and blue, while these were red, black and blue, but the resemblance was clear.

    These were Elves like young Nacazpatlac, this was to be his new home after two years, two dreadful winters, of travel.

    So why was the tiny one clinging so hard to him and refusing to go to them? He had expected the Elves to react poorly to him as they had, of course, with their bows and other strange bows trained at him from on top of their great gate and walls.

    But shouldn’t they be careful? Nacazpatlac was clearly with him and they wouldn’t want to hurt the hatchling right?

    Nacazpatlac was whaling again, and the salty liquid had returned once more, he had learned that it was only partially a call or way to communicate, and that it was most often used as an expression of sadness. His youngling had done it in nights of fitful sleeps, nightmares that he could not protect the spawnling from assaulting his mind, the only help he could offer was to take the fragile Elf into his arms and hold him tightly.

    He did so again, ignoring the growling of the adult warmbloods high above them. Nacazpatlac nuzzled his diminutive shape into the crock of the kroxigor’s neck and stayed there until the crying subsided. Eventually, still holding his hatching in his hands, he spoke softly.

    “I can’t take care of you Long Ears, I can’t teach you what they can, I can’t teach you how to speak or build or haul like a warmblood, I can’t make you new clothes… And they… They…” He choked.

    “They can, and they will take good care of you, they will keep you safe and warm.” He finished.

    He had never managed to teach his furry one many words beyond each other’s names and basics like “good,” “bad,” or “lumber”. There was no way for his charge to understand.

    But, somehow, in that way Elders and spawnlings understood each other, Nacazpatlac understood him, not what he meant, him.

    And so, after even more embracing and nuzzling the young Elf tied the little orange-and-black soft toy he had always had to one of the kroxigor’s bracelets. Entrusting him with the safekeeping of their most brave and small companion.

    Tepexitl carefully lowered his tiny friend to the ground, who nervously and slowly walked off towards the massive gates. Gates which opened a fraction, letting through two adult warmbloods, heavily armored in their metallic shells, clearly there to escort his youngling in.

    Tepexitl turned and started walking the way they had come after drinking in the sight one last time, it would probably take him shorter to return without his companion, or so he thought.

    And then he heard the running of small feet.

    When he turned around, he was met with the speeding shape of a feisty Elf colliding against his chest with a jump, giving him the closed eyes and big bare.teeth snar he had learned meant great happiness for the warmbloods.

    And so he wrapped his arms around the tiny shape hugging the underside of his snout, fully discarding his mace and all other items he had hauled for the both of them.​

    [​IMG]
    Perhaps… Perhaps his duty to his dear Long Ears was not yet done.

    And what kind of Elder would disregard his duties to his spawnlings?

    Citadel of Dusk, Nameless Badlands, Southern Lustria
    80th Day of Sun, 375th Year of Finubar’s Reign/40.0.9.14.13 13 B’en 6 C’hen​

    “Why do we even go on fucking patrols? This place is even more of a wasteland than Araby! At least there there would be things in the deserts actually dangerous enough to make patrolling worthwhile!” Complained Thebenac.

    “So what? You would rather we stay in the Citadel and disregard our duties?” Spat back the ever dutiful Sifice.

    “What duties? The reason why we are even sent out here in the first place is because they think we are too young to be proper guards! They are using these wind-raked rocks as a nursery for Asuryan’s wrath!” The archer continued to complain.

    “It is because we are young.” Sifice retorted as she continued walking.

    “No we are not!” I’m one hundred and fortytwo! And you are what? Three years older?”

    “Four.”

    “See? They treat us like children, we even have to deal with Nelmirre.” He shushes the last part, not wanting to draw the ire of their third companion.

    “You don’t need to whisper, she is an entire hill away.”

    “Don’t you know what they say? she’s half Asrai, that’s why her ears are so big and she has that freaky hearing.” He argued.

    “First, no one knows whether she’s half Asrai, she’s an orphan sure, but that doesn’t tell us anything, she could be half Druchii for all we know and it would not matter. And second, Asrai having bigger ears is just a myth.”

    “And who told you that?”

    “My father, he has met them.” She boasted.

    Sifice came from a family of exclusively Sea Elves and unlike Thebenac, who lived in the Citadel of Dusk because of his mother’s posting as a member of the Seaguard, she had family all across the width of the Oceans blue.

    The two of them, too young to formally join the city garrison or a crew but too old to be still in training, had been assigned to patrol duty like many of the young adult elves and veterans were, an easy posting in a region as isolated as the south Lustrain badlands, too cold for the resident elve-eaters to traverse for most of the year.

    And while the two of them bickered, the slightly older Nelmirre, who was in fact capable of hearing their idiocy, actually did carry out their orders as given. Keeping an eye out for anything unusual.

    Unlike the rest of her cadre, Nelmirre did not dream of joining the crew of an eagle ship and sailing the high seas, she was proud enough of dedicating herself to protecting the home that had welcomed her with open arms a century and change ago.

    She surveyed the landscape of coastal bareen rock and windswept hills. Her fellows might have been an.. Irritating duo, but their description of the ease of the task was accurate enough. Few plants made a living here, and so few animals beyond huanaco herds and the occasional snout horse roamed the patches of shrubbery here. And the only predator that hunted them were the brown jaguars, who did not see her kind as suitable prey. It had even been more than a year since she had last seen a flock or roving culchans, the massive birds usually stayed in the more fertile grasslands up north.

    But then again, neither culchans nor jaguars were the quarry she was in search of today, so satisfied with what she had not found yet, she started walking down the dusty hill’s slope, creating small avalanches of tumbling pebbles and increasing the distance between herself and the (still bickering) Thebenac and Sifice.

    It took her a while, but she did eventually find the track marks. A deep groove in the ground with deep, clawed and wide footprints to either side of it.

    So she followed, she followed for a good while until she found a seaside cove, far enough from the waterline that it would not flood even at high tide, but close enough that whatever used it as shelter would not have to take more than 20 steps before getting its feet wet.

    There was a massive mace, made from the horn of some reptilian creature, leaning on the side of the entrance. She left her longbow and quiver hanging from a rocky spur hanging by it and walked inside.

    There laid a massive creature, the single largest one that lived in the Badlands, or at least in the region surrounding the Citadel of Dusk.

    The massive crocodilian body was covered in blue scales, some of which were broken up by thin white scars. There was a faded yellow banding all over its body too. The top of the snout, a line starting behind the eyes and going down the wide neck’s length, around the biceps and wrist like arm bands, many were natural markings, others extremely faded paints applied by lizardmen she had meet a scant few times, and she knew a creamy underbelly of finer scales hid under his bulk.

    His entire body laid comfortably on the cavern floor, in a position that reminded her of a crescent moon, surrounded by all manner of knick knacks from a pile of driftwood to a collection of fishbones, but the actual sleeping spot was impeccable.

    So she turned around, took a step back and free fell unto the massive kroxigor’s flank, using his wide back as armrests and crossing her legs on top of his tail. The sudden weight earned a huff and a half open judging stare from his yellow eye.

    “Good morning father, I apologize for not being able to visit last week but duty called.” She apologized with a relaxed smile.

    “No… Worry… LongEars.” He answered in the rudimentary version of his language they had figured out together. His massive arm, easily as heavy as her entire body, moved to offer his wrist, from which dangled the pear-shaped BigBee, who she untied from the wrist band and held up for inspection.

    “I see you are remembering to keep him well fed and away from the saltwater.”

    “Always…”

    They stayed like that for a good while, basking in the familiar comfort, until she broke the silence.

    “Father… Thanks.” She uttered, eyes closed, feeling the lulling call of sleep on her mind.

    “What… For?” He wondered.

    “Everything…” She yawned, visits to Tepexitl’s den had become easier and more common over the years as she had grown from a twig into the Citadel’s most competent and youngest ranger, but that did not make her cherish them any less.

    “Everything… For… Me… Too.” He groaned, readjusting his position to give the both of them a more comfortable nap.
     
  3. Bowser
    Slann

    Bowser Third Spawning

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    Wonderful story, and adorable artwork. The pacing is really great, and great use of the Krox' perspective.
     
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  4. Mr.Crocodile
    Saurus

    Mr.Crocodile Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the kind words :)
     
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  5. Killer Angel
    Slann

    Killer Angel Prophet of the Stars Staff Member

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    Beautiful! :happy:
     
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  6. Mr.Crocodile
    Saurus

    Mr.Crocodile Well-Known Member

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    Thank you :D
     
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  7. Imrahil
    Slann

    Imrahil Thirtheenth Spawning

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    I am still reading your other story, but I like your style of writing. So reminder to self to read this also ;)

    Grrr, Imrahil
     
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