Project Update: Chapter 7 || The Traveling Merchant
It seems like the start to a good day when all three adventurers stir and tumble out of bed. They find breakfast at a small inn down the road, and Gray voices some relief that the mysterious Nightshade had given them a few coins back. The others don’t comment that he’d only not been present because he’d been sleeping off a catnip spell – one that had cost a similar number of gold coins, but coins they definitely couldn’t get back.
The only agenda item they have for today is to hit the day market and get some upgrades and fixes to their equipment, and that seems doable enough even with their coin pouches a bit beaten up. Gray’s knife has dulled to the point where it could barely slice bread, Tuff’s jacket has patches that have patches, and Fluff wants to scout some healing trinkets with Floof.
Tuff leads the way out of the inn, and almost smacks straight into a delighted pup, who woofs merrily in recognition. “Oui!” he says, patting the mount’s forehead.
“Aha! There you are, little friends,” says Spud, towering far above them. In that brief moment, it was easy to forget the little cat was only half their size normally. “I brought someone who was looking for you!”
Tuff, Floof, Fluff and Gray all peer sideways to see a poor little merchant cat dragging along a rather large moveable cart. He seems to be in a rush, but looks greatly relieved to see them as a grin sweeps across his face.
Instead of waiting for them to question what the cart is for, he scrambles to action, and it quickly transforms into a makeshift stall. He looks a smidge nervous, whiskers slightly twitching, as he motions for the group to come up.
“Hello hello,” the young cat says, “my name is Basil, and I’m the younger brother of Nightshade and her sharp Knapsack of Knives and Moss and her wondrous Traveling Terrarium - the merchants of Whiskers & Wares. I carry all the general use items, along with many special one-of-a-kind finds!”
Tuff tilts his head slightly. “Aren’t you supposed to be giving us a key to open that weird box?”
The small cat fidgets. “So, you see…”
Gray narrows his eyes. “You don’t have it, do you?”
“I did up until recently!” he objects. “Very recently! Unfortunately, the dragon cat sneaked through my camp when I was at the edge of the city and stole everything shiny I had, key included.”
“The dragon cat?”
“Yes! A quite fearsome beast!” It was hard to tell if he was telling the truth, or just spinning the tale to make his loss of goods more forgivable. “He often has a habit of stealing shiny trinkets in the area, but generally doesn’t do any harm admittedly. Most people are just too afraid to confront him.”
Fluff seems disappointed still. “How do we open this box then?”
“Find the dragon cat?” The small cat winces. “But due to how tall of a task that is, Nightshade and Moss sent me over with some apology runes. They equal the cost you paid for the mystery box - please don’t worry - and all three of us hope it helps with your journey. We’ll be along tomorrow with your requested potion as well.”
All of the younger cats look at the runes with interest, but suddenly Spud’s mount hops up excitedly, sniffing the air. At the same time, Abitail comes blazing into view, hands bright with magic.
Spud lowers his visor and calls, “There’s an explosive amount of catnip in the city square! There must be a problem. We should help!” while Abitail shouts to them as she passes, “I’ve spotted the dragon cat and he’s carrying some shinies! Loot!”
Tuff, Grey, Fluff and Floof look at each other. They could be heroes, or they could pursue their key… what should they do?
Apologies for the late update! Typing this from a hotel in Atlanta... we've had a day... between watching a truck not realize it was too tall for an underpass and sheer off its top, to this hotel which is potentially actually haunted (the toilet shrieks)... it's been a day. I'm not going to talk about how many times I had to save these images out because I kept making 1 word mistakes. Whoops.
As a reminder, the deluxe pin will be available in the lineup during the survey selections, but will have a slight upcharge for the fact that Basil be chonk. (Full collections already include him.) -- The two filler pins are super cute!
But anyway, so excited to showcase dragon cat. :D :D But we're getting into it now!
🐾Mel & Sara, Jess and Venetia