Hopping Place to Place III
You give it some thought before you decide that you personally like the prospect of being open and honest, and so you see no reason in not telling her the truth of why.
“Honestly, I guess the best reason I have is because… I was following a vixen,” you reply, and you can tell how odd it really sounds when you say it out loud – Penelope, however, doesn’t seem too perplexed by this response given her lack of reaction to it.
You continue on then. “I met this talking vixen that was as big as a wolf, and she said she was a guide for people like us that ended up in this world. She said she could help me more if I really wanted her help, but, she took off then, only saying that I could meet her at her den if I wanted to keep learning. Since I didn’t have anything else I could do with myself, I sort of latched onto that as my goal, which is why I went in there.”
Penelope nods after a beat. “No, that’s believable. I can get why you’d want answers if you weren’t offered much. Frankly, I kind of wish I’d run into a guide when I first ended up here, but I didn’t until around my third day wandering around.” She shrugs. “It kinda stinks that you weren’t helped more, I gotta say. Then again… wait, you said a vixen?”
Penelope blinks several times. “I think it took me a moment to process what animal you said you’d met. A vixen that’s the size of a wolf, yeah, with humanlike eyes? Red fur?”
“Er, yeah,” you say. “Have you seen her?”
“As a matter of fact, I have,” Penelope replies dryly. “Stupid fox. Rosha, right?”
“That’s what I was told her name was,” you reply, and you can tell right away from the look on Penelope’s face that the rabbit hybrid has had a run-in with the vixen. “I’m gonna assume that you met her on your third day and she was vague and whatnot?”
Penelope huffs. “Yeah, basically. I saw her on my first day, but when I realized how massive she was, my first instinct was to avoid her like the plague – no way was I gonna get eaten by a gigantic fox, not when I was stuck as a humanoid bunny.” She frowns with a comical look of indignation on her face. “Turns out, she basically stuck around and watched me flounder about for the whole damn day, and when she saw me get chased by that bear woman, she followed along all casually… I know this because I saw the smug jerk after the fact, and kept seeing her around until I finally approached.”
She folds her arms. “Then she starts on about how much fun it was to watch me try to learn on my own, blah blah blah… I was kinda pissed when it became clear she was some sort of guide, yet she didn’t bother helping me out one bit. She just said it was my choice to not approach her, and everything else was entirely my decision in the end.”
You aren’t entirely sure how to react to hearing this – you feel a bit of amusement at the fact she basically did the opposite of you, but, you also kind of don’t blame her for it when you consider the fact she’d have no clue she could talk to the freakishly big vixen that knows how to speak and think. As such, you don’t say anything, nor judge her for it.
“You know, I’m not even surprised to find out you ran into her,” Penelope mutters in a deadpan voice, “or that she up and ran off without telling you much, including her own name, apparently. Must be because she’s a vixen, or maybe she’s just a massive stinking troll.” She rolls her eyes. “Either way, I’m not amused with that fox’s antics.”
“I can tell,” you say, and you smile (as close to a griffin with a beak can to a smile).
“I happen to know where her den is, though,” she admits. “She’s the reason I know this woodland area fairly well, ‘cause after the fact, she led me this way since she felt it would be easier for me to navigate thanks to how open and easy it is to move around.”
“Did you not start up here?” you ask. Come to think of it…
You look around to see if you notice any random rooms floating in mid-air, but, you don’t see anything in the immediate area – you recall hearing from the talking trickster of a vixen that the rooms where people enter this world would be visible here and there, but thus far, you’ve not come across any other rooms besides the one you came from.
“Nah, not here,” Penelope replies. She points to her right, your left. “You can’t see it really well where we are, but if you keep going that direction, you’ll eventually break from the woodland area and end up in this big… I dunno, the best way I’d describe it is this cloudy swampy location. Not so much swampy as in lots of rivers, but, there were a lot of puddles and small ponds all over the place, and the smell…” She groans. “Talk about stinky. I can tolerate a lot of bad smells, but holy shit, that place stunk horribly.”
You absorb this for a beat. “Interesting. I wonder why you’d end up in that sort of area.”
“Beats me,” Penelope replies, shrugging. “That was my starting point either way, and I’d begun heading a different direction when I ended up running into the bear. I was on the fringe of a much greener, meadow type location when that happened. Went back to the stinky marshland after the fact and stayed there before Rosha made actual contact.”
“Well, I guess it worked out in the end, right?” you offer.
She rolls her eyes once more. “Suppose so, not that I’m all that thrilled about it.”
A beat of quiet falls between the two of you, although it’s a comfortable silence at least.
“Do you mind if I ask you something personal?” Penelope inquires.
You shrug. “I guess not.”
She smirks for a moment, then nods. “What’s the plan for you, overall? Like, besides seeking out that stupid vixen for help, do you have any end goals for being here?”
“Not really,” you admit. “I’ll admit I’m still mentally adapting to the fact I’m suddenly able to fly around with actual wings. It’s like… on the one hand, I’ve done it without even having to think about it, but at the same time, there’s a part of my brain that recognizes how strange it is and how weird it feels to be able to, I guess, go with the flow, if that makes any sense.” You rub the back of your neck. “I feel like that doesn’t make sense.”
Penelope snickers. “Nah, it makes sense. Actually, I think I can totally understand what you mean. It’s like you’re doing these things you know aren’t normal at all, and on the one hand, your body just seems to KNOW how to do them without you needing to think them over. But on the other hand, there’s a part of your brain that’s recognizing how illogical it is or how it shouldn’t be possible to do those things so naturally. Right?”
“Yeah, exactly,” you say, and you perk up. “You feel it, too?”
“Definitely,” she says. “Being able to leap super high or super far in a single bound… I can do that thanks to the costume giving me the ability, and overall, it’s been a blast to do and it’s amazing how smoothly I can do it, but I am well aware of how weird it feels for HOW easy it is for me. I guess it’s a side effect of the costume being a part of us.”
“That’s the best I can think, honestly,” you say. “Nothing else makes as much sense.”
Another brief beat falls, and Penelope puts her hands on her hips.
“Well, I don’t want to keep you from your current objective,” she says, and she smiles playfully as she finishes. “Would you like me to point you in the direction of where Rosha’s den is?” She pauses for a beat. “Or, I could also lead you there in person if you want? I don’t mind doing either based on your choice.” She shrugs. “I’ve got nothing else to do with my time besides pick the lint out of my belly button… which is… erm.”
She goes silent and you blink.
“Which is… what?” you ask.
“…not to be too gross, but it’s kind of fun, weirdly enough?” Penelope replies, pointing to her navel. “I mean, I was digging around in there to pluck out a lot of lint that I sort of wanna keep and…” She halts herself and seems to grow embarrassed. “Never mind.”
You stare at her for a moment, and you feel mirth flow into your chest. That said, she waits for you to decide on her offer – what do you want to do next given your options?
Written by Hollowpage on 02 July 2021
The end (for now)