It was late summer in the Moonflats, just turning into autumn. Golden hues were beginning to stand out, and the heat of the sun became a warm glow, competing for space in the sky with the gray clouds. Kaiser was on his way to the village to visit the little store. His mother and sisters had given him a list of things they wanted, filled his pocket with copper pieces, and sent him off. Kai didn’t mind though, he could visit his friends in the village and hear the news from other villages, which was always interesting. With a little wooden cart behind him, Kai loped into the village at a moderate pace, enjoying the wind in his antlers and the stone beneath his paws.
The village was nestled between 2 hills where a stream ran through. There were houses, most of which also doubled as shops, for those who lived in the village were usually crafters of some sort. Some were bakers, others made tools, baskets, clothing, etc. It was a modest sized village, big enough to allow Kai’s family to focus exclusively on farming while getting everything else they needed from the village. Kai went past the home of the Grasspaw’s, the Yellowtree’s, the Brontiers, and many others before reaching the heart of the village, where the general store was. He left his little cart outside, dusted off his paws, straightened his back and entered the little shop.
Inside was quiet, nothing unusual for Velvelin. He looked around for Ina the shopkeeper but the little jackalope was nowhere to be seen. He picked down the aisles, grabbing this and that. He eventually meandered towards the back of the shop where he heard harsh whispers from a small office room.
“Are you sure he just didn’t get caught in some bad weather?” A males voice was saying.
“Yes, I’m sure. Tren is never this late, and isn’t afraid of bad weather. I’d heard rumors before I sent him off but I didn’t pay them any mind…” This voice sounded like Ina’s, a frail old jackalope.
“Yes, about trouble in Jurness. I didn’t pay them any mind though, you know how traders do like to embellish their tales. But now…”
“Ina, you mustn’t be afraid. I can take a few good jackalopes with me tomorrow and head out there to search for him, if you’d like…”
“Oh Irek, would you? I’m worried sick, I can barely work and I feel it in my bones that something awful is going on.” Ina sounded close to tears by this point. Kaiser was completely caught up in his eavesdropping by now and was surprised to hear that she was talking to Irek. Irek was Velvelins unofficial leader, everyone turned to him when problems arose in the village. He was a full-grown jackalope, dusky gray pelt and huge antlers. He’d seen more than thirty winters and had traveled all the Moonflats in his youth as a trader, but eventually settled back down in Velvelin as a blacksmith.
Kai’s arms had begun to ache from holding so many things and he decided he needed to pay. He coughed and knocked on the frame of the doorway. Teary-eyed Ina looked up, “Kai, my dear, I didn’t hear you come in!”
“Hello Ina, and Irek. How do you do?” Kai put on a charming smile.
Irek nodded and Ina stood, “I’m fine, although, I don’t know if you overheard… but Tren hasn’t come back from Ourning and Estel villages, and he was due back a week ago with new goods.”
“I’m very sorry to hear that, Ma’am.” Kai bowed his head and held out his arm to help her walk to the front desk where she kept her coin-case and notes. “Did I hear something about a search?” Kai glanced at Irek.
Irek stood from his seat and followed them, “Yes. I’m going to head out tomorrow. I don’t suppose your family could spare you for a few days?”
Kai had to suppress an overeager twitch of his tail as he nodded, “Of course, we shouldn’t be harvesting for another week, I think. I’d love to come help!” Although Kai loved his life on the farm, it was a rare treat to travel around and an even rarer treat to spend time in the company of Irek.
Irek nodded, his great antlers swinging slowly. Ina sniffled and thanked them as Kai paid and left.
“Before sunrise, Kaiser!” Irek shouted after him as Kai sped back up towards the house with the now-full cart.