• Published 5th Jul 2012
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Leather-Winged Oddity - Deyeaz



More often than not, we don't always become what we want when we go to Equestria.

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VII - Companion

Leather-Winged Oddity

VII - Companion

‘“Also, I've been meaning to ask ya, what's with the gem at the top of Ellipsis's shaft?"’

‘"Oh, you'll see in due time.”’

Those words ring in my head like church bells as I traverse across the Great Southern Rainforest in the hopes to find out who had massacred that entire clan of cat-people.

Every single jungle, be it miniscule or monolithic, is teeming with danger. Toxic plants like Nightshade and Poison ivy, deadly predators and animals such as snakes and large hunting felines, and environmental traps like quicksand and unseen cliffs.

The Great Southern Rainforest is no exception.

To avoid getting caught by Diamond Dogs or running into any vegetation that could endanger my life, I fly high above the treetops, letting me both get a view below me and clear skies to soar in. But after about ten minutes in, I feel my wings beginning to ache from how hard I’ve been exerting them. I land down in the trees and do what I did the last time I came here: free run.

Despite the occasional tree branch whipping my face, I feel good doing this form of activity. It helps let my wings take a break, and it’s much better than running on the forest floor.

Sadly, as I run, I lose my footing on a tree branch and plummet to the ground like a stone in water.

“FFFFFUUUU- OW!”

Dirt never tastes good. Just want you to know.

I pick myself up off of the ground and dust off all the dirt on my clothes and on my face. Once done with getting the dirt out of my brows and small goatee, I trek on to the small village of those cat-people. I hear a wolf howl in the distance, and fear takes control of me for a split second. I shake off this feeling of apprehension and, for added measure, I pull out Ellipsis from the Abyss. In a flash of light, the scythe appears in my hand a minute later and I hold it securely, my knuckles going white from how hard I was gripping it. While there may not be danger now, that doesn’t mean that there won’t be danger-

*RUSTLE RUSTLE!*

...later on.

…Lord, please let that rustling sound be my jimmies.

At that ridiculous thought of desperation, the head of an individual pops out of the shrubbery to my right. It was another cat. Judging by her facial features and eye shape, I can only guess this cat is a female. Yet unlike the gold fur of the last cats I saw two nights back, she has black fur with four white stripes and a white lower half of her face, which I assume leads to an underbelly of the same color. Her eyes, instead of royal blue, are a shining hazel.

A lightning bolt strikes across the sky, lighting up the entire environment. In the brief illumination, she sees me. With a small gasp, she hops out of the bushes and runs away down whatever beaten path have been made by the hooves and paws of many that have passed through this jungle.

“Wait!” I call out to her as I run after her, doing all that I can to make sure she doesn’t leave my proximity in this dark jungle. “I’m not gonna hurt ya, lass!”

Oh, sure, just go ahead and say that with a fucking scythe in your hands, you moron.

I shake my head at my idiocy and send Ellipsis back into the Abyss. With the weapon now gone, I am no longer weighed down by it, thus giving me a bit more speed.

“Please! Hold on! I promise I won’t hurt ya!” The environment is so dark that I barely avoid running into the trees or boulders that stand in my way.

She risks to turn her head and look at me through the corner of her eyes. Those orbs of mixed chocolate and mint practically pierce me like a needle through cloth. She turns her head forward and starts slowing down when she reaches a clearing only a minute later. I follow her example and stand behind her at the clearing.

But we didn’t only reach such a thing. Instead, we are at the outside of another village.

This one is like the other I had seen, sans the wreckage and carnage that had ensued. This village might even be a little larger than the other, probably housing twenty or thirty more. Torches are lit at the village’s perimeters and on the village paths, each torch separated by five feet of space. The village seems... a bit more civil and advanced than the other. There is a shaman’s hut for healing purposes, training grounds, a school for children, a mess hall, two watchtowers, and, in the far off distance, I think I even see a little worshipping ground, like a church or a synagogue, with a flagpole.

The cat I have been chasing turns around to face me. I blink in surprise when the light from one of the torches throws her figure into relief. She’s as tall as I am, and rather well-shaped in both her curves and her athleticism. Unlike the other tribe of cat-people, with their tunics and pants/skirt, this one is dressed... what’s the word, scantily? I presume this word to be correct because the cat dons a tied green cloth around her chest, with a twist in the middle, like a bra, and the skirt is instead a pair of green loincloths to cover herself. She has a beaded necklace like the other cat-people, but she has many gold piercings on her ears. I even spot a gold piercing on her navel.

But in a ring-like scabbard on her left hip was a large sword, shaped like an Egyptian khopesh, but with a more wicked curve, like a hook. And her paw was right on it.

OK, multiple piercings, large-ass sword. She probably got scared when she saw me, but she might have reinforcements in the village, so she might find strength in numbers like a changeling would. While I do have a murderous scythe, I must try the diplomatic, docile approach. Ergo, take caution and do not provoke her.

“Er... top o’ th’ evenin’ to ya?” I say nervously.

The cat-woman removes her paw from the sword’s handle and offers it to me. “Hi,” She says in a calm voice. “I’m Kaileena. How’s it going?” She then flashes me a little smile.

Whoa. I did not see that coming.

I take the paw in my hand and shake it once. “Er... I’m Damien. Nice to meet you?”

“Damien...” Her hazel eyes roll up as she puts a paw to her chin. She then looks at me with another smile. “It’s a good name.”

“Er, thanks.” Kaileena looks at my talons and wings with wide eyes before looking back at me.

“Not to sound rude, but... what are you?” She asks.

“I’m a Devil Imp, which I think might be related to a harpy....” I answer. “Now, if ya don’t mind me askin’, what are you?”

“Tribe or species?”

“Eh. I’m not too picky.” Kaileena gives a small snort before pressing on.

”I have no idea what our species’ name is. It was lost long ago. But... me and this village’s occupants are the Urukai tribe.”

“And what does the tribe consist of?”

“Why are you asking me these questions?”

“Why did you answer my question with a question?”

Kaileena’s face goes blank before she points at me and says, “Oh, you’re good....”

I stifle my laughter. “Thanks. I try.”

“Well, we’re considered hunter-gatherers, and we’re considered a peaceful tribe, fighting only when necessary, but... since the fruit shortage and healing herbs are running low... we’re mainly looked upon as hunters now....”

“Interesting....”

“So what about you?” I raise a brow at Kaileena’s question. “What are the ‘Devil Imps’ like?” She moves her two digits on each hand-like paw to put the words in quotes.

“Honestly? I haven’t met any others like me yet. Now that I think of it, I think I might be the only one here.” Kaileena let out a low whistle.

“Damn. That must suck,” she comments. Now that I think of it... it kind of does. Do you know what it’s like to be the only species left in the world, perhaps the universe itself? It makes you feel... alone. Empty. And in that lonesome that you’re bubble-wrapped in, whatever hope you have that there’ll be more of you just... dies. Even with people around you, that same cold, depressing loneliness will still be there, just haunting you.

Because nothing sucks more than feeling all alone... no matter how many people are around.

“Ya don’t know the half of it,” I say morosely.

A few moments of uncomfortable silence pass before I speak again. “Why did ya run away from me, but stop when I promised I wouldn’t hurt ya?”

“I ran away from you because of your appearance. The flesh, the eyes, the wings, the talons, the scythe; but when you promised me that you wouldn’t hurt me... I dunno... I heard something... sincere in your voice, like you would keep that promise and never break it,” Kaileena explains. “Say... whatever happened to that scythe of yours?”

“Oh! You mean Ellipsis?” I ask her.

“Is that its name?” I nod. I concentrate and, once again, the scythe appears in my hands once more with another flash of light. Kaileena jumps and hisses at the weapon’s sudden appearance, waving her claw-bearing paw at it.

“How th-?!” She stops from how loud her question got. “How the heck did you do that?!” She demands in a whisper.

“I know a guy... ” I explain with subtlety. I hear several owls hoot, their calls reverberating through the rainforest. Another lightning bolt goes off several kilometers away, preparing to bring with it a light drizzle as the thunderclap runs throughout the forest to accompany the owls that hoot.

I also hear mine and Kaileena’s stomachs growling loudly with hunger. “Hehe... sorry about that. I haven’t eaten since this early afternoon.”

“It’s fine,” she says, her cheeks turning quite red from embarrassment. “Er... ya wanna come eat dinner with me?”

“Will it be alright with your folks and the villagers?”

“Eh. I don’t think they’ll mind too much... but you might wanna put your scythe away first, Damien.” I do as she asks, and the scythe once again goes back into the Abyss. Kaileena grabs my wrist with her paw and leads me through her village.

The village women and girls are dressed like Kaileena is, but the men and boys sport muscle shirts and shorts. Villagers of both sexes are either chatting with one another, tutoring their children in the training grounds on how to fight when it’s needed, or preparing dinner in the open-space mess hall, where Kaileena is leading me.

But when I walk in, the chatter and camaraderie stop, and the whole village is looking at me.

The eyeballs of several cat-people begin to make me feel incredibly uncomfortable as we reach the mess hall. Kaileena stops me and sits me down on the wooden platform of the mess hall, in front of a low-set rectangular table for six, and she then proceeds to sit next to me. The crowd around us begins murmuring in hushed tones to one another. Some of the villagers gaze at me with apprehension, some in wonder, and some in dislike.

Others decide that I’m unimportant and simply face the direction they’re sitting in.

“So what’s with all this sea of different looks?” I ask.

“You’re a newcomer, Damien,” Kaileena says. “Some of the villagers aren’t used to newcomers at all, because usually, they’re either Diamond Dogs rounding up slaves or other tribes that crave land or bloodlust... or both.”

“Yikes. Ever had that happen to your tribe?”

“A few times, but we manage to fend them off.”

“Also, speaking of bloodlust... I’ve been meaning to ask you if... you know of a tribe.”

“Sure. We know every tribe around here.”

“Well, then, can you tell me the name of that tribe that has gold fur and blue eyes?”

"Dude... we're colorblind."

"Crap... hang on, do you know that tribe that has a sacrificial alter in the middle of its village?" I wish I had not asked that, for Kaileena’s chill appearance takes a turn for the fearful as she looks at me.

“You... You’ve seen the Lacuni?” she asks in a hushed tone.

“Lacuni? Is that what they are?” Kaileena nods. “What’s wrong with them?”

“The Lacuni tribe is a tribe of raiders and pillagers. They go around, stealing land after land from the other tribes.”

“Then how did you manage to fend them off?”

“Remember, we fight only when necessary, and we’re darn good fighters.”

“Ah. I see.”

“But that’s not the only reason the Lacuni are hated and feared. They... rape and desecrate their prisoners for entertainment. Even worse, they sacrifice their tribe members and their prisoners to their gods, then eat their insides.” I shudder in disgust. “They are cannibalistic, plundering barbarians, and they show no mercy.” She then turns to me. “How did you survive them?”

“I didn’t. When I reached their village, they were all slaughtered one by one. But a lone, dying survivor told me who had done it: it was a woman they had captured. She resembled me, but she doesn't have wings, and she has feet where I have talons.”

“How did she do that?”

“I have no idea. Which is why I’m going to go there and find out.”

“You can’t go!” I hear a hint of desperation in her plea.

“Why not?” I inquire.

“Think about it: if the Lacuni, a tribe of deadly, raiding cannibals, were killed by one woman - who was their prisoner, might I add - then what do you think will happen to you if you go out there and find that woman? You’ll be killed!”

I wanted to protest... but Kaileena was right. This de-powered goddess of a woman must mean serious business, judging by the way Kaileena reasoned why I shouldn’t go. Hell, now that I think of it, if I so much as make fun of the ex-goddess, she’d probably Sodomize me with my own weapon faster than I can apologize.

“Alright... fine,” I surrendered. “I’ll stay. But I’m not gonna like it.”

“That’s the spirit,” she says. A cat-man walks up to the table we sit at, two bowls in his arms and one in his curled tail. He has a taller stature than Kaileena, and thin as well, yet with a hint of muscle and sinew one would expect from someone who exercises. To add emphasis to his appearance, an eyepatch, styled from cloth, was strapped over his left eye, and the fur under his chin was a bit longer than the others, somewhat like a beard.

“Hey, Kaileena. Who’s this?” He asks, with no hint of dislike in his tone, as he sits down and gives the bowls of food to me, him, and Kaileena.

“Oh, hi, Dad. This is Damien, a Devil Imp,” Kaileena says happily as she introduces me to... her father?!

“Er, it’s a pleasure to meet ya, sir,” I say as I shake his paw once.

“The name’s Akio. Nice to meet you, too,” The cat man says. “So how do you know Kaileena here?”

“I met her when I was walkin’ through the forest. I saw her in the middle o’ me travels, and she got scared. She probably thought I was goin’ t’ hurt her, so I followed her here,” I explain.

“Ah... I see,” Akio mutters. “Well, what are you waiting for? Have some food.” I look at the steaming bowl in front of me, and inside it is what appears to be some sort of stew. I grab the spoon that was in the bowl, scoop up the strange food, give it a quick blow to cool it down, and put it in my mouth.

Sweet.

Merciful.

God.

It’s... BEAUTIFUL!

The stew has a sort of tasteful tang to it, like some lemon juice and spices were used in the mix. The meat inside the stew is soft, chewy, and packed with flavor. Amongst the stew is a few of the sparse vegetables the Urukai could harvest: potatoes and carrots. The overall taste of the stew is one that could surpass even the most skilled of chefs.

As a matter of fact, I’m surprised I haven’t orgasmed yet from how delicious it is.

Before long, I destroy the entire thing. Akio’s eyes are wide as dinner plates at how quickly I had decimated the stew before me. Kaileena stifles a fit of snickering at my erratic behavior. All the others just stare at me.

“This is... amazing!” I exclaim quietly.

“Thanks,” Akio says. “I made it.” I look at him incredulously. This man... er, cat, made this food for the village?! This guy could probably make Gordon Ramsay his bitch.

“You made this? My God, this is incredible. How long have you been cooking for?” I ask. I’m a little envious of chefs like Akio: despite desiring a career as a psychiatrist, I’ve had to be a chef from time to time to help make ends meet at my apartment complex in Boulder. And while my cooking is only above par at best, it can never even hope to beat Akio’s skills, let alone be parallel with them.

“About... erm...twenty years, to be precise,” Akio answers. Twenty years of cooking this magnificent deliciousness?! Oh, forget making Gordon Ramsay his bitch, I’m pretty sure he butt-fucks him in front of his parents, and his parents pay him to do it!

I let out a low whistle at how long Akio had been using his paws to create master-level sustenance. Subsequently, another crack of lightning and clap of thunder rage across the forest, causing everyone in the vicinity to jump up in surprise. Not a moment later do I feel a droplet of rain land on me. And another. And another.

Before I know it, it starts to lightly drizzle on the Urukai village. Most of the villagers took their bowls of stew inside their huts to avoid ruining their food. Some with empty bowls collect the rainwater for later use. But in my retaliation to the raindrops, I shift my wings so that one of them is shielding Kaileena from the rain, and the other does likewise for me. “Akio, wanna come over?” I offer him the wing protecting me.

“Nope, I’ll be fine, Damien,” the cat man says. I retract my offered wing and reuse it to cover my head. “Besides, you two look pretty cute together....” He starts wagging his eyebrows. Me and Kaileena glance at one another and begin to blush viciously at Akio’s words.

“Lad, what the fuck’re ya talkin’ about?” I reason at him.

“Y-yeah, it’s not like that!” Kaileena backs me up. Akio only chuckles.

“Relax...” Akio assures us. He then looks at Kaileena with both a smirk and a raised brow. “Well? Aren’t you going to invite your boyfriend to stay with us tonight?”

“Sur-” Kaileena stops herself halfway through her sentence. “Hey! He’s not my boyfriend!”

“For the love of God, man, just stop with the shipping! Please!” I beg him. Akio laughs harder from his antics and walks away from the mess hall.

“What the heck is shipping?” Kaileena asks me once Akio is gone.

“Er... it’s when two people are in love and are in a relationship, hence the word ‘ship’ in both ‘relationship’ and ‘shipping’,” I tell her.

“That’s a lot of ships,” she deadpans.

“Too bad there’s no sea,” I retaliate. Kaileena laughs at my pun.

Holy fuck, I am smooth.

“Well.. er... do you want to come inside and stay the night?”

“You’re not falling for Akio’s trap, are you?” I ask.

Kaileena snickers and waves a paw. “No, it’s not that. It’s just... it is raining, after all.”

NO, I THOUGHT IT WAS SNOWING.

“And...” she continues. “It’d be rude of me to let a friend sleep out in the rain.”

That got me there. I haven’t had any friends since Marcus and Natasha, and the pain of not being able to see them again made me feel... depressed. Since I got here, Echo and his friends were the first few friends I had made in Equestria, and even then, who knows when I’ll ever see them again? Before I know it, we’ll drift away, like leaves in a tornado, going in different paths, probably never even getting close at all. Time and Fate are always cruel and fearful. Before long, I’m sure Marcus and Natasha will forget me. Hell, I’m pretty sure even the bullies are going to miss me and their paradigmatic routine of beating the tar out of me.

And what's even worse is that... maybe I'll forget them.

But I mustn’t ever look back on the past if I want to proceed on and life happily. I’ll find some way to communicate with Echo and the others. For now, I’ll take up Kaileena’s offer. “Sure,” I finally answer.

Kaileena smiles at my agreement. We both stand up and head towards her hut, my wings still guarding us from the rain’s ever-growing quantity and strength. She leads me to her family hut, opens the door, and walks in, with me following her afterwards. I close the door and take a look around.

The inside of the hut is a one-room interior. One large hammock comprised of rope and lined with animal hide sits in one side of the room, taking up a quarter of the space. Likewise for a hammock at the other end. A little window is in between these two hammocks. In the middle of the room is a large lantern of fireflies that partially illuminates the whole room. Underneath the window is a large pile of folded clothes inside a wooden box.

“This is a nice place,” I murmur.

“Glad you like it,” Akio says as he lays back in the hammock on the left side of the room. “You can share the other hammock with Kaileena tonight.” Me and the cat-woman in question look at Akio like he said something inconceivably stupid. “What? I kick in my sleep! That won’t be comfortable for either you or her!” He reasons.

“That’s still creepy, lad,” I tell him. Regardless, I slowly make my way to the hammock on the right side of the room and take a seat. The hide beneath me is soft and smooth, while the rope reinforcing it is strong and durable. I remove my backpack and place it on the ground. “But... you guys are offering me a place to crash for the night....”

“Damien, please don’t tell me you’re falling for my dad’s trap now,” Kaileena begs.

“‘Now?’ You’ve fallen for it before?” Kaileena glances back and forth, biting her lip as she tries to find a way to respond to my question without making her look like she has been suckered by one of Akio’s tricks.

“Well... um...”

“Yep!” Akio answers. Me and Kaileena fire menacing glances at him simultaneously. He shrinks back into his hammock. “OK, I won’t talk anymore,” he sighs in defeat.

“Thank you,” we deadpan. I lay back, taking care not to slash the animal hide with my talons.

Kaileena sighs in both defeat and frustration. “Oh, dear gods, I can’t believe I’m doing this,” she grumbles. She walks over and lays down next to me, her head resting on my wing. “Move your ass, I need some room,” she demands. Akio chortles a bit.

“Whatever you say, lass.” I move over a few inches so that Kaileena can get comfortable.

“So... when’s the wedding?” Akio asks.

“SHUT UP!!!” We both roar. Akio puts out the firefly lantern, laughing like a madman at our reaction. The room goes dark, save for a sliver of moonlight that pours out the window like a waterfall. I close my eyes and try to sleep, with Kaileena’s purring and Akio’s weak, nigh-inaudible giggles acting like hypnotizing metronomes. Within minutes, I feel a weight on my chest. I raise a hand and feel a paw. The paw reacts by gripping my hand gently, and I think I hear a content sigh from the cat at my side. Soon, I begin to feel heavy, a sign that my brain is preparing to temporarily shut down and make its routinely sojourn into the domain of dreams.

And it does just that, my conscious departs the docks of reality and drifts off down the river of time on a boat of pleasant dreams.

But instead of sleeping for the whole night, I awake in the middle of the night to something else....

Something... terrifying....