“Honey, I’m home!”
Minic jumped up from Minic’s seat and bounced around excitedly at those words. Minic was feeling fluffy because Big Sis had returned and Minic would get to spend time with her. Big Sis was sometimes a Big Bro instead, but Minic didn’t mind. Okay, Minic minded it a little since there were less soft things around when Big Bro was a Big Bro instead of a Big Sis.
“Welcome back, sweetie.”
Her Softness called out from the other side of the big box. Minic liked Her Softness because she had two of the softest softies that had ever softed. She often held Minic and presses its sensitive underside against them, which felt nice and fluffy. Sometimes, however, it would feel one or two hard nubs poking into its undercarriage, which was less-than-fluffy. But Minic learned to cope with it since Her Softness got angry at Minic whenever it tried to swat those things away. Big Sis didn’t seem to mind that behavior, but her softies weren’t nearly as fluffy as Her Softness. It was a bit of a shame, but Minic didn’t mind the size difference. Okay, Minic minded it a little, but Minic kept quiet about it because complaining about them would be rude to Big Sis. And Minic liked Big Sis a lot.
“Everything go well with Ariebelle?”
“You know, the girl that tore you away from me?”
“Oh, right! Faehorn’s niece had a name like that, didn’t she?!”
“You seriously forgot? Just how much of a scatterbrain are you? Honestly!”
“Sorry Rowie… I guess in the end I only recognized her as Faehorn’s niece and nothing more. I know it’s rude but…”
Minic didn’t understand any of the words being thrown about, but Minic could read the mood from the tone of their voices. Minic understood this was a serious matter, so Minic tried to keep quiet. Otherwise it might get yelled at by Her Softness and be barred from her fluffy globes yet again.
“... Well, I’ll let it slide this time, but please work on your etiquette. I can’t have you embarrassing me like that in front of my parents.”
“I’ll, um, keep that in mind…”
“Good. Now then, I still have to finish preparing dinner.”
“Need any help?”
“No, I’m almost ready anyway. I had plenty of time to prepare since a certain someone spent the entire afternoon with another girl.”
“Hmm? Is Rowie being jealous, perhaps?”
“No, of course not.”
“Are you suuuuure?”
“... Alright, maybe a little.”
“Ehehehe! Rowie’s so cute when she’s flustered!”
“Har, har, har. What did she want, anyway?”
“Just some details regarding Faehorn’s will. Seems there was a misunderstanding that took some time to resolve, but in the end it turned out he bequeathed me with something from his personal collection.”
Big Sis reached into her clothes and pulled out a small square thing. It was shiny, bright red and a bit transparent. It was somewhat similar to Minic’s own shiny gem, but Minic’s precious place was completely different.
“Oh, wow! What’s that? Some magic item or something?”
“Nope, just a regular ruby. It doesn’t have any practical use and I don’t have the heart to sell it, but… it’s quite beautiful, isn’t it?”
“It is... Though I think you’re way more beautiful.”
“Rowie… I’m happy to hear that, but your dish is burning.”
It would appear that Her Softness finally noticed the red thing in the black pan has been giving off a weird smoke for a while now. Minic wasn’t sure whether that was good or bad, so it didn’t know if it should tell her. Well, either way it didn’t need to. Her Softness resumed tending to the smoky thing with clattering and hissing noises over at the yummy-station while Big Sis sat down on one of the chairs. However, she seemed to be feeling rather un-fluffy. Her mouth was curved the wrong way and the see-balls were half-hidden by the see-ball-curtains in a none-too-pleased manner.
Minic decided to try and cheer Big Sis up, so Minic went over over to her and bumped into her legs a few times, causing her to turn her see-balls towards it. They shone a lot like the warm ceiling-bright up on the Grand Ceiling. Was Big Sis feeling unfluffy because the ceiling-bright was slacking off again?
“What is it, Minic?”
Oh, Big Sis spoke to Minic! Minic couldn’t understand the words, but it didn’t need to. It came over on a mission and it would fulfil it! Therefore, Minic spit out half of the extra-big fur-fruit it caught earlier while it was alone. The partially eaten fur-fruit fell on the ground next to Big Sis’s leg with a small splat, sending the red juice everywhere.
“Yip, yap! Yip!” (Here, Big Sis! For you!)
Big Sis looked down at Minic’s gift and her juice-colored head tilted a bit to the side. The see-ball-curtains opened and closed a few times, but in the end she curved her mouth the right way up. She briefly turned towards Her Softness, who was facing the other way, and then grabbed Minic’s gift with her bare leg. A small mouth opened up on the underside of it, and it ate Minic’s gift with a few quiet crunches. Afterwards, tongue rolled out and licked up every last drop of the juice before the mouth disappeared. Big Sis then gently patted Minic on the lid with her leg and stroked its red gem with her leg-fingers. That tickled a bit, but Minic didn’t mind that feeling. Okay, Minic minded it a little, but this was how Big Sis showed her appreciation, so it just fluffily accepted it.
Several minutes later, Her Softness and Big Sis started eating the smokey thing from earlier. Big Sis tried to give some to Minic, but it refused politely with a ‘Bleh!’ noise. Her Softness saw that and said some harsh-sounding words to Big Sis. She then placed a bowl on the ground that had several slices of fresh big-tree-fruit. Each piece had glistening yellow meat, taut red skin and a few tiny black seeds stuck inside it.
Minic gleefully started eating its favorite treat. It was much tastier than the bits of old-tree-fruit it was given sometimes, mostly since this one was gushing with juice. Ah, but this was a different kind of juice than the fur-fruit. It was more watery and much sweeter, so Minic definitely preferred this one. Not to mention the fur-fruit’s long, off-white seeds were sometimes too hard for Minic to chew them. The fact that Big Sis could munch on them without even trying was kind of amazing in its own way.
After the meal ended, Her Softness and Big Sis climbed onto the big creaky bed and began rubbing against each other again. There was a bit of yelling and screaming, but Minic had already learned that whatever they were doing wasn’t as painful as it sounded. Therefore, it sat quietly on its personal bed that consisted of a single head-soft. It felt a bit jealous at first since the big bed had several head-softs, but it didn’t complain, because Minic is a good Minic.
Eventually the screaming died down and only breathing noises were coming from the bed. Minic still couldn’t see the point of just laying there for hours and hours, but Her Softness seemed to be back to full fluffiness when she got back up so it definitely wasn’t a bad thing. Big Sis on the other hand would probably have to leave soon.
And just as expected, Big Sis got up, stood next to the bed and started mumbling.
There was a puff of green smoke and a flash of light as Big Sis disappeared back to her special hidey-place and Mother reappeared in all her softastic glory. As usual, her massive softies bobbed and jiggled with unparalleled fluffiness. Minic really wanted to sit on those, but Mother never let it do that, even back when Father was still around.
“Yaaap! Yap-yap-yip!” (Motheeeer! I want to sit on your softies!)
That didn’t mean that Minic wasn’t going to try, though.
“Shut up, you insufferable little gnat!”
Ah, it would seem it was denied once again. Minic didn’t need to know her words to understand that much, as it was the same un-fluffy tone she always used.
“Hmnnn… Huh... ? Keira, is that-”
Her Softness let out a few noises and stood up a little, but went back to doing what she was doing when Mother scolded her. Mother had a gift for scoldings, and often scolded Minic. However, that was just how Mother always was, so Minic didn’t mind. Okay, Minic minded it a little, but complaining about it would just earn it more scolding. Still, Minic believed that one day it would be allowed to sit on Mother’s softies and attain true fluffiness, so it would definitely ask again the next chance it got.
As for Mother, she kept glaring at Minic in a rather un-fluffy way and silently pointed at one of the lids of the big box. Minic never understood why these big boxes had such relatively small lids or how come there were so many of them, but it had just accepted it as fact. There were many types of boxes, after all. Minic was one, and Big Bro was sometimes a box, too. That’s what made Minic recognize Big Bro as a Big Bro in the first place, though it didn’t understand why Big Bro was sometimes a Big Sis instead. But Big Sis had softies and was a bit nicer to Minic, so Minic liked both of them.
“Get out or I’ll throw you out!”
“Yak!” (Oh, right!)
That’s right, Mother probably wanted some alone-time again. Minic had gotten sidetracked so it got scolded again. It walked up to the big wooden lid and exited through tinier lid on it. The fact that Big Sis could put a lid within a lid nearly blew Minic’s mind back then, so Minic was always a bit awestruck whenever it passed through. Those wriggly strangers that used to drop by awhile ago used it too, which was why Minic complained about them to Her Softness. It wasn’t sure why, but it was sent to another box for a while soon after. That whole affair was just another thing Minic would probably never understand, so it just went along with it until Big Sis came back and everything became fluffy again.
Regardless, Minic was given leave to play around, so it decided to do just that. At least until the ceiling-bright came back, which was usually when Big Sis would return. So Minic decided to keep exploring that one place it found recently, even though it was a bit far. It ran up to the edge of the floor and jumped off without any hesitation. Minic revelled in the free-falling sensation as it plummeted uncontrollably towards the ground.
As it fell, Minic felt a strong gust of wind push it from the side. Minic then crashed through a particularly leafy branch, bounced off a flying feather-fruit, got caught up in some dangling long-leaves, rolled across one of the slanted top bits of a brick box and landed safely in a bin filled with somewhat soft but nasty-looking stuff.
Minic then climbed out of the bin and skittered quickly-yet-casually across the dirt-covered floor, wondering for the upteempth time when someone would actually clean it up. Minic wanted to do it itself, but it lacked the means to do so. Minic didn’t have Sweepy’s outstanding cleaning skills, after all. If that slim, tall and bristly sibling was there, then Minic was sure it could handle this job without even trying.
Minic continued along the familiar, dirty floor until it came to a small hole in a stone wall, and crawled inside it. It climbed down into a dark, dank tunnel that had some extremely filthy water running through the middle of it. That water was bad news. Not only did Minic not care for the taste, but Her Softness would somehow know if Minic somehow got itself submerged in that stuff. She would then scold it while scrubbing it clean with some warm and slightly bubbly water. Therefore, while Minic was walking along the stone path next to the stream of water, Minic made doubly sure it didn’t slip or otherwise fall into it again. Because Minic was a good Minic.
After a long while of aimlessly walking the series of tunnels, Minic somehow made it to the place that Minic wanted to visit. Minic didn’t know how these mysterious and confusing tunnels worked and got lost with frightening frequency, but somehow always ended up at the right place. And the place in question was shaped like the inside of a super-sized stone box. There were several tunnels that carried the filthy water into it, while a slightly bigger one drained it away somewhere. There were a lot of these stone boxes around, but Minic knew this was the right one since that one tunnel in the corner had nothing coming out of it.
Minic walked along the edge of the giant box and hopped into that interestingly dry tunnel. It was much darker than the other ones, but Minic didn’t need see-balls to look around. It could see all of its surroundings all at once thanks to its shiny red gem, so while it often got lost it almost never tripped over stuff, except when it did.
However, all that walking around was making Minic feel a bit peckish, so Minic kept its gem open for a snack. It soon found some fur-fruits lying about the dry tunnel, though these ones were much too big to eat. They didn’t have any juice in them either, as most of it seems to have leaked out and dried up. On the other hand there were quite a few buzz-fruits floating around them. Those ones weren’t as filling as fur-fruits, but were much easier to eat and catch due to Minic’s flexible tongue. Unfortunately these tunnel-buzz-fruits were much nastier than the ones above, so in the end Minic decided to give up on them too. Minic was sure Her Softness would prepare another bowl of big-tree-fruit when it returned, so it had no qualms about passing up on these inferior snacks.
Minic kept resolutely skittering across the tunnel. Minic didn’t see anything interesting for awhile, other than a number of dried-up fur-fruits every now and then. Some of them had been here for so long that only their seeds were left behind. Eventually, Minic found itself inside another stone box, almost the same as the one on the other end of the dry tunnel. Well, other than the fact that this one was completely dry, had a bunch of fires lighting it up, and was really, really loud.
The noise was coming from a large number of things that were milling about. They looked a lot like fur-fruits, but were definitely different. For one thing, they were even bigger than those fur-fruits of unusual size that Minic came across on the way here, though not quite as tall as Big Sis. They did, however, have perky triangular listen-holes that looked a lot like hers. Their fur looked to be much fluffier than regular fur-fruits, too. It was mostly gray in color, although the area around their see-holes was black, while the bits directly above that and running along their long, protruding mouths were white. They also had fluffy-looking striped tails that alternated between gray and black, and their nose-detectors were small, black and round, almost like a woof-woof.
Some of them stood on their hind legs and most of them wore at least one article of clothing, such as old aprons, beat-up hats or rag-like shirts. They moved about with purpose, going in and out of appropriately sized boxes that appeared to made out of mud and wood. There were a number of them that had a bunch of random objects lined up on small wooden planks and exchanged them for shiny stones with the ones passing by. It was almost like that busy place that Her Softness went to get fresh big-tree-fruits every now and then. She had brought Minic with her once or twice, so it was quite sure it was the same atmosphere.
Minic curiously approached the bustling space that was filled with chittering noises of various kinds. Minic had never seen creatures such as these, and was very eager to sit on one of them to test out their softness. As luck would have it, there was one of them near the edge of all that hustle and bustle. It was splayed out on its back behind a particularly large box that sounded like it had a bunch more of them inside. A rather foul-looking liquid was dribbling from the corner of its mouth, but Minic wasn’t going to be deterred so easily. Minic approached the creature from the side and called out to it.
“Yip yap yap?” (Excuse me, but may I sit on you?)
“Hrrrrrrrrr…” (Mmmm, cold floor…)
Well, Minic didn’t understand any of that quiet growling noise, but it didn’t sound like a ‘no.’ Therefore, it confidently climbed up its furry arm and sat somewhere on its belly. As expected, the fur was quite soft, enough to rival Minic’s personal bed, though it still fell short of Her Softness’s softies. Therefore, Minic decided to refer to these unfamiliar beings as fluff-furs. It was a very luxurious name, but one that fit that superbly fluffy thing Minic was sitting on. Not only that, but Minic found the gentle up-and-down motion caused by the fluff-fur’s breathing to be quite relaxing.
“Chrraarata!” (There he is!)
A high-pitched chitter suddenly interrupted Minic’s fluffy time. A trio of fluff-furs approached the one on the ground. However, they clearly weren’t peaceful as all of them were baring their pointed teeth, while the one in the lead was holding a knife. And it definitely didn’t have the ‘munchies will be ready soon’ demeanor of Her Softness.
The three intruders surrounded the soft-fur on the ground. They clearly had some business with him, but their eyesight was inevitably drawn to Minic’s fancy frame and shining red jewel. It was nearly the same look that Big Sis had when she and Minic first met.
“Chraar!” (Look at that shiny thing!)
“Chra! Shreehss?” (Wow! Did this deadbeat always have such a thing?)
“Krrrr…” (So shiny…)
“Hrack! Hrarrrak.” (No way! He’s too poor to even afford mushroom wine.)
“Hrakrr?” (So should we take it instead?)
“Grrrrr!” (Paws off, it’s mine!)
“Grrrrrr!” (No, the shiny is mine!)
“Graaaar! Hurrrrrrr!” (Quiet you idiots! I’m the boss here so it’s mine!)
Minic had no idea what was going on, but judging from how their chittering and soft purring grew into dangerous-sounding growls, this clearly wasn’t going to end in a fluffy situation. Therefore, Minic decided now was a good time to leave. So while the three fluff-furs were busy hissing and snarling at one another, Minic carefully climbed off its seat and tried to skitter away.
“Hr? Shrraaaararaara!” (Huh? The shiny is trying to run away!)
However, it would appear Minic’s escape attempt had been seen through almost immediately. The fluff-fur that shrieked just now tried to jump and grab onto Minic, but Minic managed to leap out of the way of those grabby-claws. Minic wanted to run away, and tried its best to do so, but one of the fluff-furs managed to grab onto Minic before it could gain any speed. He then lifted Minic above his head and let out a triumphant cry.
“GRAR!” (I SAID MINE!)
The one with the knife moved forward and cut him on the back. He howled in pain and stumbled forward, dropping Minic in the process. He retaliated by turning around and clawing his attacker across the face, causing some juice to gush out from the knife-holder’s see-hole. The third one took advantage of the confusion and chased after Minic, but Minic had already began skittering away at top speed in a random direction. The much taller fluff-fur would have easily caught up to Minic, but for better or for worse, Minic had ended up running into the crowd of fluff-furs.
Howls, roars, chitters and other sounds started intensifying around it as the big stone box’s interior was thrown into chaos. Two of the fluff-furs grabbed Minic on either with one paw each, and then started punching and clawing each other while pulling on it from both directions. A wooden stick with a pointed tip suddenly appeared and slid into one’s shoulder, causing him to fall to one side and let go of Minic. The other held onto Minic firmly and made a run for it, only to be hit by a thick piece of metal from the side and forcibly relinquishing possession of Minic to the really big and tough-looking fluff-fur.
This one kept moving around while swatting other fluff-furs with one hand as if they were nothing, all while holding onto the struggling Minic securely. Pretty soon, they all gave up on trying to come near the big and tough one, and merely hissed and growled from a distance. Just when it appeared they’d more or less calmed down, a fireball streaked in from the side and hit the big fluff-fur in the side, heavily singing his softness.
“Hrahr! Shraaaararara!” (Iron-Club! Drop the shiny if you know what’s good for you!)
The one that launched that hot thing - the one-eyed fluff-fur holding a long stick pointed it menacingly at the big tough one.
“Grraahr! Rrrrargh!” (Stupid Flame-Eye! If you want it then come at me!)
The tough fluff-fur’s protests were cut short by another fireball that just barely grazed his listen-holes.
“Hrahrahraaa!” (Just give it up, you know you can’t beat me!)
“Grrrrr!” (We’ll see about that!)
Another one came flying at the fluff-fur that was still clinging onto Minic, but this time he managed to dodge it entirely. He had moved a bit too far to the left, prompting one of the surrounding fluff-furs to leap out of the lines and bite into his exposed arm with all force. The two of them struggled for a few moments, before the one-eyed from earlier was preparing to do his thing again.
But before the upteempth fiery projectile could come flying at him, the tough fluff-fur had been tripped up by yet another fluff-fur that came in from the audience. He ended up falling backwards and unintentionally flinging Minic into the air-
-right into the path of the oncoming Fireball.
The surrounding fluff-furs watched with mouths and see-balls wide open. However, just as the projectile that would undoubtedly burn Minic into a crisp was about to make contact, it curved unnaturally to the right and hit one of the bystander fluff-furs.
A special action has been performed. LCK +1.
Oh, hey! Minic’s old friend Blue-box was back! Unfortunately, Minic didn’t have time to chat right now and had to dismiss it. Minic knew it was rude, but it had a duty as Big Bro’s subordinate to return to him at all costs. This was a good chance for it too, since all the fluff-furs seemed to be staring at the one that was hit just now. Therefore, Minic skittered across the dirty floor with all its might. A few of the fluff-furs jumped back when they saw it approach, but one of them pounced on it and held it down with both claws.
However, that one-eyed one didn’t quit and launched yet another fireball. The fluff-fur that was holding onto Minic turned around and held Minic in the path of the incoming mass of flames. Like before, the projectile’s flight path curved unnaturally causing it to swerve around Minic and hit the fluff-fur behind it squarely in the face. He fell over without even uttering a yell and Minic fell out of his suddenly limp hands.
A special action has been performed. LCK +1.
Minic was a bit happy to see Blue-box was back so soon, but it once again dismissed it with a silent apology. Minic landed upside-down on its lid, but it managed to flip itself over by opening its mouth really wide. Just as Minic was about to break out into another run, it realized that the fluff-furs have drawn back even farther away from Minic. Even that mischievous one-eye was looking at it funny, and seemed to hesitate a bit before he tried once again.
“... Hraerhall?” (... Fireball?)
The fireball flew out of his hand and towards Minic yet again. It did a splendid half-circle turn around Minic and flew back at him, hitting and shattering the stick he was holding onto and knocking him to the ground.
A special action has been performed. LCK +1.
Did Blue-box love to see the fireballs that much? It always seemed to appear at times like these, but Minic didn’t mind. Okay, Minic minded it a little since Minic rarely got some quiet time with Blue-box, but it already accepted this behavior as just how things were. Either way, it would appear that the fluff-furs had played around enough since they all started running away, probably back to their own duties. Even the big and tough one was limping away so quick that Minic wondered if his weirdly-bent leg might snap.
Well, honestly speaking, Minic had quite enough goofing around for one day as well. Minic headed off into a random dried-up pipe and made its way through the completely unfamiliar maze of tunnels. Somehow or another Minic managed to find its way aboveground and dimly recognized the surroundings. It would also appear that the ceiling-bright was already back to work up on the Grand Ceiling. People were already walking about, so Minic had to be extra careful not to get stepped on as Minic made its way back to where Big Sis was undoubtedly waiting. Somewhere along the way, however, it accidentally bumped into someone’s leg.
“Ow! Oh hey, you’re Rowana’s pet, aren’t you?”
The pointy-listen-holed man knelt down and held out his hand towards Minic. It was the same person that Minic stayed with awhile back, though Minic still wasn’t sure why Minic was sent there in the first place.
“How you been, Minic?”
“Yip!” (That is indeed my name, good sir! A pleasure to see you are of sound mind and body! Forgive the sudden disturbance, but would you be willing to assist me?)
“Hehe, lively as ever, huh? Still, you’re a long way from home. Quite the little explorer, aren’t you?”
“Yap yap!” (Marvelous! Then I would be deeply grateful if sir would be kind enough to see me back to Her Royal Softness and Honorable Elder Sister’s box of residence.)
“Well, this busy street is no place for you. Come on, little guy, let’s get you back to where you belong.”
Minic was gently picked up and carried off towards the direction Minic was trying to go. It would seem Minic had managed to relay its intent despite the language barrier. Minic was quite proud of itself for accomplishing such a feat. And indeed, just as promised, the nice man brought Minic right to Her Softness’s box and knocked on the lid of it. Her Softness noticed the signal and opened the lid within a few moments.
“Morning, miss Slyth.”
“Good morning. Oh, Minic! There you are!”
Minic was passed from one set of hands to the other and felt the distinct sensation of Her Softness’s softies pressing against its underside.
“Thanks so much for bringing him over. I hope it wasn’t a bother.”
“Haha, no worries, miss Slyth. I know full well he’s quite the slippery bugger. Has way too much energy for such a pipsqueak.”
“I’ll say. I still have no idea how he manages to move around so much even though he never sleeps. We take him for walks and everything, but he never seems to tire out.”
“Well, what can you do. That’s part of the little guy’s charm.”
“I suppose you’re right. Would you like to come in for a cup of tea for your troubles?”
“No, that’s quite alright. I actually have to get ready for work. Good thing for our little friend here that I decided to leave early, eh? Besides I wouldn’t want to intrude upon you and your girlfriend’s quality time together.”
“No worries! Hahaha!”
The man departed with a chuckle and a wave of his hand as Her Softness brought Minic inside the comfortable old box. She seemed displeased since Minic had gotten quite grimy during that little adventure, meaning it would probably be bubble-water time soon. Minic saw that Big Sis was sitting in the corner fiddling with those springy, clicky and poppy things she liked to play with.
Oh wait, no, that was actually Mother. She and Big Sis sometimes traded places, probably as part of some fun game. Minic could immediately tell them apart, even though others seemed to confuse them quite often. Minic didn’t hold it against them though, those two really looked quite alike when they wanted to. It was only to be expected they would be like that. After all, Minic could feel an oddly nostalgic bond between Big Sis and Mother. Almost the same as the one that existed between Mother and Father.
Looking upon it again, Minic was reminded of a better time, back when Father and all of Minic's siblings were still around in that noisy and constantly rowdy place. Sweepy, Cookers, Sir Seatmeister the Third, Wardrobzilla, Tablesworth, the Bowl Triplets and all the rest - it missed every last one of them. Minic had to go through some rather unfluffy experiences ever since their separation, but right now things were different. It had people that looked after and cherished it, people that it could share many fluffy times with. For the first time since that fateful day, Minic actually had a home again. Granted, this one was smaller, a bit dirtier and didn’t have any of its siblings, but Minic didn’t mind.
Minic didn’t mind a single bit.