popped up between the two and startled them. Through gritted teeth she whispered, “We’re here.” She pointed ahead, and the boys looked just in time to see a downy grey Leghund open his den to the Rush.
There were a few Arboreals meandering about, but none were paying any attention to the bups. Barra thought they could act without being noticed. “Okay,” she said with a hushed voice as she leaned in toward her friends. “I’m going to the roof to see if I can find a way inside. You two wanna go around to the windows and see if you can find a good place to listen?”
The boys nodded. Tory was confident, Plicks apprehensive. Then all three ran and jumped from the pathwood.
Barra went lithely from branch to branch until she was positioned above the Fenroar den. Lowering herself down to the roof with her tail, she stealthed, camouflaging her fur to match her surroundings.
Plicks couldn’t jump very far with his short legs, but he scurried pretty fast, regardless. He dove around and down to the claw-marked, unkempt underside of the pathwood. Soon he was hugging the bottom support bough of the Fenroar home. He found a ventilation hole and listened in.
Tory could have cleared the distance to the den in two jumps, but he had to move slowly to avoid drawing attention. He found the closest branch large enough to hold him and ran out onto it. The bough flexed down toward one of the Doctor’s windows, and Tory swung himself underneath. Hand-over-hand, he moved right up to the window and hoped he hadn’t been seen.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Inside the living room of the Fenroar’s cultivated den grew many elegant displays of lighting and watering flowers. Elaborate watershelves lined the walls, and a silky exotic moss covered the floor; rich brown accented by sprouts of bright blue.
Darby Fenroar called out, “Yorg? Yorg!” The Leghund eyed the Rush he’d just let in with suspicion, his marbled nose twitching. Darby’s great size and strength made him an imposing figure despite the downy softness of his light grey coat.
A Muskkat responded to the call, entering through one of the curtains of braided vines that separated the rooms. “Yes, Darby?” Doctor Yorg Fenroar asked. The average-sized Muskkat was slinky-slender and short, so he was dwarfed by Darby. He was covered in glossy, dark brown fur, and had a long snout topped with two large blue eyes, and the wrinkles on his face accentuated his beguiling smile.
Darby explained, “From Vallor. It’s for you.”
Yorg stepped toward the hovering messenger and accepted the delivery.
“Thank you, thank you,” the Rush said, releasing the bellflower. Having lost his ballast, he shot up toward the ceiling, bobbed for a bit, adjusted, and then floated back down. He spotted the wyrmwood across the room and dashed toward it.
Darby cut him off. “Whoa, what about the message?” he demanded. He didn’t think the Rush had earned his keep yet.
“Right! Test the sample. That’s what she said,” the Rush answered, zipping side to side.
Darby moved away from the wyrmwood, and the Rush flashed by. He landed, buried his claws, folded his wings, and simple as that became almost indistinguishable from any other pod growing on the stump.
Yorg inspected the contents of the bellflower. He raised a single eyebrow, perplexed. “What do you think it is?”
Darby’s response was dry enough to wilt a waterfull. “It’s a bellflower containing a female specimen of Aridifolia Tricopterus,” he said.
Yorg looked sideways at Darby, switched his raised eyebrow, and said, “Quite.”
Darby rolled his eyes. “Well, you asked didn’t you?” He shrugged and added with sincerity, “I don’t know anything more about it than you do.”
Yorg examined the sluggish insect and asked, “Are you still growing fuzzberries?”
“Sure I am. I know how much you like them,” Darby said. “Wait. You mean for the bug.”
“Yes. It looks hungry doesn’t it?” Yorg held the bellflower
John; Arundhati; Cusack Roy