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Author Topic: The Homba and the Pike  (Read 1041 times)

Offline Dandelion

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The Homba and the Pike
« on: December 06, 2012, 04:02:13 AM »
Naturally, this wasn't far off in coming. How can any person named after Dandelion not tell an El-ahrairah story?


   'Hombil were always the cleverest of the thousand, granted, not as clever or as tricky as El-ahrairah, but close. Homba had gathered his people, for their prey had been growing thin and hard to catch, and they were too proud to scavenge from other animals. Prince fox was not that different from El-ahrairah in the aspect that he cared for the lives of his people, and he sought ways to feed them. As we all know, Frith gave rabbit speed and tricks, and fox slyness and the desire to hunt rabbits. That desire showed here, and Homba spoke to his people of ways to hunt and kill rabbits. With plotting, they decided that they would block the rabbit's runs and the area around them and starve the rabbits out, into their jaws. They would take shifts to hunt what they could or to look for berries. Never before had the rabbit's of El-ahrairah's warren seen such a large gathering of elil, and were quite worried. They were slowly starving.
   El-ahrairah gathered Rabscuttle and others of his Owsla to discuss ways to get out of their burrows. Their homes had become their prisons and soon-to-be graves. Many ideas were shared between them, the fittest does could dig their way out, the Owsla could lead a mass charge, breaking through the foxes and make a warren elsewhere. Each idea was more desperate than the last. El-ahrairah had been sitting, half-listening to the ideas, though mostly plotting. Finally he sat up and raised his voice to be heard over the bickering of the desperate Owsla, “None of those plans will work.” He declared, “Starved does cannot dig, Frith knows how many lives would be lost in a mass charge.” The Owsla were thunderstruck. El-ahrairah would be the last to admit defeat. Before their ears could droop too low, before their hopes could be buried in the sand, El-ahrairah went on, “However,” He continued, a mischievous twinkle in his eye that Rabscuttle had come to dread, “there might be hope. I shall make a deal with Homba. I shall swim across a lake of pike, and in return, he shall never gather his people like he has done now, he shall be forced to live like a wolverine, scavenging from anyone.”
   A burly, young rabbit called Hawthorn, a newcomer in the Owsla, laughed, “El-ahrairah, you jest and brag, but you will not succeed in swimming across a lake of pike, 'tis impossible!” Hawthorn's confident tones swept across the gathered Owsla, like a fish breaking the surface of a pond. They chuckled nervously, but stopped when El-ahrairah hopped over to Hawthorn.
   El-ahrairah, of course, was angry, but he would not, could not snap in front of his Owsla. Instead, in as calm in even voice as he could manage, he said, “Hawthorn, you are a brave rabbit, but rash. You forget who stole the king's lettuce, I did that, and I will do this, I will make a deal with Homba and swim across a lake of pike, earning your freedom. When you run free under the warm gaze of Frith, you will look back to this day and wonder how you doubted me. This I promise.” He stood on his hind legs, “Go back to your runs, Rabscuttle, I wish to speak with you.”

El-ahrairah plotted with Rabscuttle until well after Fu Inle, when Rabscuttle nodded with satisfaction in time with El-ahrairah. They said goodnight, and hopped toward their burrows to rest until morn, when El-ahrairah would strike a deal with Homba. The next morning El-ahrairah left his burrow and went to wake up Rabscuttle, for El-ahrairah needed him if their plan were to work. El-ahrairah went first down one of the more narrow runs so a fox could not easily collapse it or come down after them. El-ahrairah stopped a fair distance down the hole and called up to the fox on guard next to it, “Get Homba for me, I have a deal to strike with him.”
   The fox was a rather young one, but still dangerous, and used to following orders. He nodded, and was about to leave the mouth of the burrow when he stopped, “Rabbit, how am I supposed to know if you are not tricking me so you can grab a few mouthfuls of grass while I am away?”
   El-ahrairah shook his head, “I want to make a deal with him, for the good of my people. I would not take the risk to eat. However, if you truly are suspicious, ask another to guard this hole while you're away.”
   The fox nodded, and called over another fox in the rough fox dialect. The other fox bounded over and listened as the younger fox explained about the rabbits and getting Homba. She nodded as he left and took a post next to the hole, “Why don't you come out, longear, it would be so much easier to get it over with, instead of starving to death in that nasty hole.” She coaxed, her voice as smooth as honey.
   El-ahrairah shook his head, “I am waiting here to speak with Homba, not to give up.”
   The slim female fox snarled in frustration, “Pity, I'm getting rather hungry here.”
   The young fox did not take long in getting Homba, and the prince fox crouched at the mouth of the hole, after issuing orders to the two other foxes. The two foxes left, glancing over their shoulders. Homba smiled, “Are you giving up, El-ahrairah?”
   El-ahrairah shook his head, “No, however, I will make a deal with you. If I win, you leave my people alone, call off your people, never gather like this again, and give us until the showing of the new moon again to recover.”
   Homba snarled, “That's a lot to ask. What's your end of the bargin?”
   “Simple, I swim across a lake of pike. If I die, you have my word that none of my rabbits will try to stop you from eating them, other than to run.”
   Foxes were not known to merriment, but Homba laughed so hard he could barely force his words out, “Accepted, Prince rabbit!” He crowed, “Hee hee hee, this is the easiest bet I've ever done! Haha! You, swim across a lake of pike? I'll make it better, if you win, haha, I shall dance upon my ears!”
   “Than it's done.” El-ahrairah said simply, “At ni-Frith, you shall allow Rabscuttle and myself to come out of our warren, unharmed. We shall go to the lake in the valley. All morning, send your availible people to tell all the pike in the rivers flowing to and from the lake that a rabbit will be swimming across, undefended.”
   Homba nodded, still chuckling, and turned and walked away.

   At ni-Frith, the foxes that were not guarding El-ahrairah's warren gathered at the lake in the valley, known to the rabbits as the Inle lake, or moon lake, for the reason that when a full moon shone high in the cold night air, the reflection almost filled the entire lake. However, right now the sun beat down and the water was still and hot. Pike fins broke the surface, lured they were by an easy meal. El-ahrairah left his warren along with Rabscuttle, and though the foxes were hungry, they honored the truce between the princes of fox and rabbit and did not attack. Rabscuttle and El-ahrairah hopped toward Inle lake, Rabscuttle nodded solemnly as he stopped at the top of the hill. He then hopped away, toward the other side of the lake. El-ahrairah arrived next to Homba, “I am almost ready to swim across the lake of pike. See you at the other side.”
   Homba chuckled, he seemed to never stop laughing these days, “Climb out of the lake next to that hawthorn tree.” The tree in question was very old, and was rumored to of been old when Frith had made the world. The branches were covered in two-inch thorns and dipped low, brushing the water. The grass nearby was lush and good for eating, but was always fairly dry at ni-Frith, but then, isn't all grass?
   El-ahrairah nodded in approvement, “That's a good place. It will be nice to have some of that grass after the long swim.”
“Then get going!” Homba said.
“Not quite yet.” El-ahrairah said, pausing between each word. That was when Homba began to suspect that he had been tricked. El-ahrairah continued as Rabscuttle hopped toward him, Rabscuttle had something in his mouth; it looked like a wad of grass, “Rabscuttle, do you have that thorn you got from that very tree Homba just pointed out?” Rabscuttle nodded. “Alright,” El-ahrairah said, “Like we discussed.”
   Rabscuttle set down the wad of grass. Upon closer inspection, it was a bit of trampled meat, grass and dirt pressed into it. He spat out something, a thorn, along with a bit of blood. He had found the meat from the scraps of meals the foxes had eaten next to their holes, and he had carried it gingerly to the hawthorn tree, when he had tugged a thorn from it, pricking the roof of his mouth upon the branch before carrying the meat again to El-ahrairah. While he was carrying it, blood from his mouth had soaked into the meat.
   “Thank you Rabscuttle.” El-ahrairah said. Before Homba could figure out what was happening, El-ahrairah grabbed the meat and threw it into the lake.
   As El-ahrairah grabbed the meat, Homba figured out what was happening and yelled, “Stop him!”
   Pike are natural predators, and can smell blood, like a shark. Perhaps that is why they are called freshwater sharks. A hookjaw scented the blood, as did it's fellows. They sped toward the meat, covered with rabbit blood. One grabbed it just as another reached it. A small hunk of meat wont keep a single pike occupied, but if there are many, you can count on at least one getting injured in the tussle. And once one is injured, it's all over. Pikes are cannibals, just as many carnivores are if going gets tough. The water turned red as the pikes fought for a bite of an injured one. Homba was screaming and dancing in rage, as foxes rushed over to kill El-ahrairah. But the crafty prince rabbit darted to the side and ran into the lake and swam, as best he could toward the other side, careful not to make a splash. The foxes followed, confident that anything a rabbit could do, they could. During the confusion, Rabscuttle slipped away, headed to greet his chief at the other side. El-ahrairah was swimming for his life, many hombil after him, pikes were fighting as the water around them reddened, prince fox was spitting with rage, and Rabscuttle was dashing along the water's edge, shouting encouragement to El-ahrairah. And El-ahrairah swam. He was going almost as fast as a rabbit could run, for if he got even a scratch from those foxes behind him, it would be all over. The middle of the lake, where El-ahrairah was, would become the splashes of confusion and red water. After what seemed an eternity, El-ahrairah could feel the pebbled lake bed beneath him. He dragged himself up past the waterline and collapsed, panting with exhaustion. The foxes weren't far behind. As the fastest one dragged itself into the shallows, Rabscuttle yelled, “Stop! We had a deal with Homba. El-ahrairah swam across a lake of pike. Now, keep your end of the deal. Leave us be until the new moon shows again in the sky.” If he hadn't spoke up, the foxes for sure would of killed El-ahrairah, for prince rabbit was too weak and tired to run.
   The foxes muttered among themselves unhappily. Finally, the one they elected spokesperson stepped up, “That was hardly fair,” he began,
   “We never agreed about fair!” Rabscuttle retorted.
   The fox looked put out, but he continued, “but we will keep our end of the deal, for now. We will let you go back to your warren, but if Homba says it doesn't count, we'll attack before new moon.”
   Rabscuttle snorted, “Can't ask for better.” He muttered. The foxes left, and Homba came around the lake toward the hawthorn tree.
   He looked at Rabscuttle and El-ahrairah with hatred in his eyes and snarled, “I underestimated you, rabbits. However, I shall uphold my end of the deal. I will call my people off, and leave you to new moon, and...” He sighed and raised his back as high as he could, tucked his chin into his chest so only his ears and paws touched the ground...and danced.'
'If we ever meet again, Hazel-rah, we'll have the makings of the best story ever.' ~Dandelion

Offline Hawkbit

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The Homba and the Pike
« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2012, 01:53:41 AM »
Now there's a crafty El-ahrairah story! :)  How long did it take you to write?

Offline Myrkin

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The Homba and the Pike
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2012, 11:44:09 AM »
Nice story. This Homba isn't very smart fox, now is he? The prey is growing thin and hard to catch and what he does? He starves his prey on the off chance, that some of rabbits will run straight into foxes' jaws. And then there is the bargain, which doesn't give him much if he wins, unless El-ahrairah's promise means that all rabbits will run out of the warren. If not, then winning the bet doesn't change much for Homba.
"My heart has joined the thousand, for my friend stopped running today." - Hazel

Pessimist sees a dark tunnel. Optimist sees a light in the tunnel. Realist sees the light of coming train. And the train driver sees three idiots standing on the track.

Offline Dandelion

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The Homba and the Pike
« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2012, 05:49:34 PM »
About two hours. Fifteen minutes planning, thirty minutes procrastinating, fifteen minutes worrying, and a hour writing.

Hmm, now that you mention, Mrykin, I see that. I'm going to do something you should never do and defend my story without using evidence from the story. Swimming across a lake of pike seems impossible, and Homba didn't plan on El-ahrairah to actually be able to do it, and if that had killed El-ahrairah, Homba would of been a hero among elil.
'If we ever meet again, Hazel-rah, we'll have the makings of the best story ever.' ~Dandelion

Offline Myrkin

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The Homba and the Pike
« Reply #4 on: December 17, 2012, 09:19:25 AM »
I guess becoming famous for killing El-ahrairah can be good enough to agree to that deal. Still, making your prey starve to death (or nearly to death) when you are hungry is not a sign of wise predator. If I were those foxes, I would find myself a new leader.
"My heart has joined the thousand, for my friend stopped running today." - Hazel

Pessimist sees a dark tunnel. Optimist sees a light in the tunnel. Realist sees the light of coming train. And the train driver sees three idiots standing on the track.

Offline Dandelion

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The Homba and the Pike
« Reply #5 on: December 17, 2012, 05:00:21 PM »
They'll consider it. :D
'If we ever meet again, Hazel-rah, we'll have the makings of the best story ever.' ~Dandelion

Offline Myrkin

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The Homba and the Pike
« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2012, 07:12:34 PM »
Good for them. ;)
"My heart has joined the thousand, for my friend stopped running today." - Hazel

Pessimist sees a dark tunnel. Optimist sees a light in the tunnel. Realist sees the light of coming train. And the train driver sees three idiots standing on the track.