Noctisardor Bypass 1 "They're not as big as I thought they'd be."
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The dark had settled neatly against the stunted scrub forest. Hedgerows neatly packed between towering old growth, their tips giving the tiniest shuffle as the nightly blustering began. It was late, though not too late.

Holding tightly to a length of holly, the old woman kept pace with a much more spry hare. The tap-tap-tap of the wood was more for her own amusement as the tempo brought a twitch to the coney's nose and bright shock to his eye.

Must you be doing that?!
The rabbit scrunched his eyes against the wind. Grandmother felt the glare and smiled. 《A little nervous of the dark, are ya?》 All the same, she raised the stick and then tossed it aside with a sigh.

That would have been a nice crutch, thought Grandmother. The sound of the stick crashing among the reeds was far worse than the tapping. It was enough to make the rabbit freeze and shudder, but the old woman continued to stride across the pine needled path.

I can't show you the way through if you draw the attention of teeth, old one. The rabbit cautioned. Those eyes darted to every shadow, every twisting leaf, while overhead dark clouds billowed.
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Mother Nature had bequeathed the last of her remaining senses to Druid some days ago. Sight and now hearing lent much dimension to the infant’s experiences of the world. Days and nights passed in an observable circadian rhythm as she continued developing and growing, muzzy eyes slowly sharpening and tiny ears twitching with the natural world’s many heartbeats.

Just a hairsbreadth over two weeks old, she was still too young to explore much and could only “swim” a few feet across the den floor. She spent the evening shuffling toward the door, curious about the light, which faded by the time she reached it. An exhausted Druid’s chin dropped to the ground and she napped, rousing well after nightfall.

Quite used to darkness and silence, the puppy nonetheless blinked hard as she ascertained the variation in the shadows, particularly here near the den’s mouth. She whimpered curiously at noises perceived beyond it and began scooting in that direction, propelled by the call of the wild.
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What was that?
The rabbit's ears were the reason Grandmother had employed him. He had heard something and frozen in place. She scowled at the sight of terror on his face, and decided in that moment she would not use his services in the future.

Trundling along without him, she came to a halt with her dainty nose in the air. There was indeed something nearby. It reminded her of the dogs at the camp - except for the lingering sweet notes, which brought to mind her children.

Some distance from the two of them was the den mouth. A large dark hole set among the forests many shapes. 《There. Is it one of yours?》 Grandmother did not like to speculate, however in this case she enjoyed playing the fool.

Wot? That? No, no no, we make our homes further afield. Something is there, though... The hare bound up alongside his companion and sniffed the air. Grandmother beckoned him forth with some tut-tuts of her tongue, wishing she still had her holly.

So it was the rabbit moved beyond her, towards the unmarked hovel, while she sank back to watch.
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Although gifted with sight, Druid didn’t possess much in the way of depth perception, particularly in such low light. Suddenly the stone gave way beneath her and she tumbled into the grass. She grunted in surprise and instinctively squirmed to right herself, then stilled at the sensation of the cool, soft blades tickling her belly and chin.

The waning gibbous moon was luminous overhead, not that she noticed it. It allowed her to ascertain her palely lit surroundings, dimmed as they were, although Druid couldn’t make much sense of what she saw. Her little ears twitched at the variation in acoustics out here in the open air, not that she truly understood that either.

Motion out there in the blurry darkness caught her attention. Her head wobbled as Druid raised it, peering into the distance. That was another new concept. Something dipped and swooped in her belly as the sheer enormity of this dark world overcame her.
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It didn't take long for the rabbit to spot the wolf cub in the moonlight. Small as it was, they were very nearly the same size. It made a few curious sounds that drew the rabbit over.

It doesn't look like one of mine. said the rabbit.

When he turned to seek Grandmother's attention he could not see her. She had tawdled off somewhere and left him alone in the dark with the small thing. 'Help an old woman out,' she said. 'It'll be an adventure,' she said... Psssh!

Rabbit turned to the cub and sniffed at its face. He nipped at the pathetic little ears as if tugging them would make them sprout to match his own. He even tried jostling at the creature's belly with taps of his fists.

You are one sad rabbit. the boy surmised.
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A little shudder passed through her when the vague hints of movement and noise materialized into a shadowy figure just inches away. She beheld it with curious blue eyes, her tiny nose twitching as she drew in its scent. It wasn’t totally unfamiliar. Actually, it evoked memories of comfort and warmth. (Perhaps @Sequoia employed rabbit skins in the nearby whelping den?)

A little huff escaped her mouth when the creature touched her. It didn’t resemble her mother, sister or the paternal figure that often darkened their doorstep. The way it nibbled and nipped at her made her think of her litter mate though. Even the delicate little punches reminded her of the way Witch oftentimes kicked her, accidentally or otherwise.

The sounds coming from the rabbit’s mouth were also familiar and unfamiliar all at once. Druid could neither understand her own species’ language, nor speak it. But she could vocalize in other ways, which she did by letting out another, louder huff. It was followed by a rumbling noise somewhere between a growl and a whimper before rolling into a proper bark.
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The rabbit recoiled when he was finished his assessment. If it wasn't one of his kind he did not know what else it was, or if it was dangerous. The noises coming from it seemed harmless too - until it barked. That sound sent a shiver through his entire body and empowered a sudden hop backwards.

Right in to Grandmother, who held herself upright with her lost holly stick. The rabbit let out a panicked squeak and twisted to face her, one long hind leg raised up and ready to defend himself.

《Boy, are you going to kick a poor old lady? What has gotten in to you.》 Trust a rabbit to lose their nerve so easily; Grandmother was not impressed.

You! You left me with this! This... thing!The rabbit was incredulous. Even Grandmother could hear the exasperation in his voice, the way his heart was spazzing in his chest. He gripped at his belly a moment. What do we do? It needs help. If it is warren-folk then I must rescue it --

《You will do no such thing!》 Grandmother snapped. She planted her walking stick down hard against the dirt so that the sound would carry. The rabbit was out of sorts; she knew better than to pilfer the children of dogs.

《Go to it, and put it back. No - don't give me that look - it needs to go back. Our presence has disrupted things here.》 The rabbit looked positively green. But, as Grandmother raised her stick again, he turned and attended to the child.

After hopping back over to it, he positioned himself so that he could usher the child with a few pats and tugs, trying to make it turn around. He grumbled every so often as he did this, not wanting to touch little Druid at all.
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She went rigid when the sound of her own bark tore through the nighttime quiet. The rabbit startled backward and Druid blinked owlishly. Something about its rapid movements excited her, causing her tail to thrust out stiffly behind her as she pushed partway onto her feet. Another noise rumbled in her chest, only to fall silent when a second animal appeared.

Druid’s pale blue gaze swung to the raccoon, which resembled her brethren much more than the long-eared lapin. In fact, her own coloration wasn’t so different from the Procyon lotor, though the puppy didn’t know it. Her gaze lingered on the inanimate object grasped in one clawed paw, though soon the first creature crowded back into her space.

As it pushed and pulled her back toward the den’s mouth, Druid obeyed the momentum by rote, quite used to being directed in such a manner. Soon she was turned to face the den itself, where she could see the pale shapes of Sequoia and Witch curled together. They looked so cozy and peaceful. An unwitting whimper escaped the puppy as she began to scoot toward them.

Her way was thwarted by the slight lip at the den’s entrance. Unable to scale it, Druid’s nose bumped into it and she let out a questioning mewl.
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Rabbit was ready to turn around and leave. Better to let the small thing find it's way, he thought, especially when there were places for him to be and a frightening, deepening night to deal with.

Grandmother saw the hesitation in him. She scoffed. With the aid of her stick she moved in to assist while shooting the rabbit a shrewd look. When the rabbit began to back towards the shadows and the hedges she quickly thrust the holly stick out to bar his passage.

《We are not done here!》 She hissed lowly at him. Grandmother was afraid too. They could not be caught here, but it was not right to leave the child unprotected.

Have you lost your mind?! There could be more of them. They could be just around the corner, and these beasts won't be too happy to find us - save to eat us quick! Rabbit was not going to stick around for much longer. Let the beasts choke on elder bones while he made his escape, for all he cared!

While the rabbit made his jittery protest, Grandmother was moving in to help the helpless child. She could not quite bend and lift with her fine little arms, and so she grabbed her stick and levered it beneath the child's middle. It wouldn't be comfortable. As the rabbit wasn't being any help, Grandmother could only do so much.

《One would think, being of a prolific clan such as yours, your people would have more kindness and care for the young. Worthless little man.》 She grumbled.

The rabbit had abandoned her, though. Grandmother had managed to lift the cub over the edge of the den and was now holding the rest of them up with her spider-like fingers and tiny palms, trying to carefully push the child's bottom and slide them like a loaf of bread towards the dark warmth of the den.
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Indistinct voices prattled behind her as Druid made another questioning noise, then flailed a foreleg in an attempt to reach the small ledge. She felt something press beneath her midriff and suddenly she was raised up enough to scoot across the threshold. Her rear end still dangled until little hands pushed her further into the den’s dim confines.

She wriggled toward her mother’s and sister’s snoozing figures, mindless now of anything else, including the masked creature who might linger in the doorway after lending her assistance. With a happy whimper, Druid thrust her nose into the crook of Sequoia’s foreleg. Soon she inserted herself beneath its protective warmth, where she promptly fell asleep and dreamed of rabbits and raccoons.
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Once the child was squared away, Grandmother would make a retreat of her own. She managed a few steps with the aid of her holly, then stopped.

There was no sign of the rabbit anywhere. The young man had hightailed it away from her and now the old woman was alone. How frustrating! It was not such a shock though, given the proclivities of rabbits.

After a pause to sniff the air and gauge her next move, she decides to leave something behind. The young thing was too small to recognize a gift, but perhaps their parent would see it.

Grandmother carefully plucked some green triangles of rigid holly from her branch, assembled them in a neat pile out of the way of the den mouth, and then sank back with a hand on her hip, not quite pleased.

A better gift would have been that foolish rabbit, she thought with a cruel huff. Then as Grandmother began to amble away, she thought better of the pile, and of her stick. What use was the holly to her? It would be hard to carry it and climb high to her bed.

So she turned back again and carefully laid it down too, by the pile, then hurried off in to the dark. Somewhere among the trees of Rivenwood the old woman would find a suitable place to hide, to sleep, and to plot her next foray.

And from time to time she might sneak by, to see if the child had found what had been left behind.
*Low Speech (that of lesser creatures) denoted by 《these》!