The lingering scents of a night’s tanning lesson eased their way out of young Doeskin’s nose while she sat, perched atop her favorite tree, for a well-earned night of stargazing. The tree was the tallest near the still-taller Dentrees, offering a majestic view with fewer distractions. And that view was ever fascinating; the slow turn of the nightly beacons, the starsigns and the stories they held. This night the Drunken Star held the center of the telling, dazzling tantalizingly over the Angry Bird’s head. Turns away, she knew she would find that clumsy star beneath the Bird’s claws, but well below them, always somehow out of reach along its warbling path. For the Now, she’d see more tales play out as the slow, lazy hours passed by —
Doeskin had never heard a Preserver make that sound before. She bolted down to see what the trouble was. She’d made her way to the ground and bounded closer to the source of the discordant yowl before realizing she didn’t even have her scraping blade! Defenseless, Doeskin’s training took the lead from instinct; any girl of not yet three hands of turns sought safety over confrontation. She found it wedged in the crotch of a small young tree, too small to bear her weight on higher branches. A poor choice to be sure.
The scents that hit her nose though were thick and musky and hinted at something other than ‘danger.’
“Tadpole’s twisted teeth!” Axehand, clothed in nothing but a loincloth and a snarl, emerged from a cluster of moss-strewn boulders. He was chasing after a tiny sea-green speck. “I plan to keep these ears a long time yet! I won’t have you scraping them deaf with your fool shrieking, you piss-swigging pest!”
The ‘speck’, known well for its fearless nature, happily chirped back, “Foamspray no pest! Foamspray help!“ It flew about in wistful loops. “Foamspray make sweet-sweet music for loveydove Highthings!”
“We are not ‘loveydoves’!” Moon’s voice came from around the boulders, followed soon by her nearly naked form. Axehand’s fellow hunter had a matted clump of the green stuff in her hands and looked very ready to throw it. When Doeskin was just a cub, she’d imagined the fun she might have had with a dedicated Preserver friend of her very own. But ‘Whitehot Highthing’ didn’t ever seem to enjoy the attentions of the Preserver that had attached itself to her company forever ago.
Doeskin couldn’t help but giggle, an act which drew all eyes on the scene slooooooowly towards her.
Foamspray was up in the girl’s face in an instant, flapping the backs of its hands at her. “Shoo-way! Shoo-way! Go go go! Loveydove Highthings want make bounce-bounce!”
“We are not loveyd— we are not lovemates!” Moon roared. “And I’ll never have one with you always hovering around!” She chucked the moss at Doeskin! It flew apart on the trunk beneath her close enough to make the girl scramble for footing. “You! Get lost! And take Singbad Screechthing with you!”
Doeskin’s own fingers moved of their own accord, pointing at random places as she tripped over her own words, “I’m just… going to go… be somewhere else.” She scrambled down from the tree, waved the bug over to her side, and scrambled away.
“I’ve heard better songs come out the back end of a shagback with the runs!” Axehand shouted after them. “And don’t let me catch either of you grubs swinging back ‘round to watch!”