Gentle Beast 18

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Ryan stared at his front paws with rigid fixation. They were young again, and the paw pads were pink. He turned to look behind him and saw his long tail had shrunk as well. It wasn't offensive in the least and obediently hung to the ground, it tilted slightly, and seemed harmless and stupid.

He had once again returned to this damned infancy.

Ryan clenched his teeth tight. After a short time of several fluctuations in his mood, no one's expression was going to look good.

On the other side, Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu and Eric were equally shocked.

She was drowsy but suddenly woke up all of a sudden, and she stared at the bed where the leopard was "entertaining himself" and tried hard to recall something.

He wasn't in her space? When did he come out?

How did he get out?

She thought for a moment but could not find any impression of it.

Was it possible that when she struggled to sleep, she accidentally released him from her space?

Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu moved toward the bed a few steps, wanting to approach the little leopard and see what was going on.

Suddenly her wrist was grabbed tightly by Eric who had just stepped outside the room.

Eric's eyes widened and he shook his head, hesitating, "Ōu. . . you cannot go there."

Eric was unable to comprehend the scene before his eyes, this was beyond outrageous.

What he saw just now was an obviously adult leopard, how in the blink of an eye, did it become a small innocent cub?

"Why can't we go?" Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu, although puzzled, still stopped in accordance to his words.

"Because. . . it. . ." Eric hemmed and hawed, his ordinarily clever tongue was now stuck, unable to link words into sentence. He was both afraid of Ryan becoming bigger and searching out his race to cause trouble, but also worried that Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu would be unable to accept it.

He hesitated for half the day, then callously entrusted, "You fell asleep a moment ago, your leopard, it became. . ."

——It became a mature leopard and wanted to do something detrimental to you.

Unfortunately, this sentence did not have the chance to finish. The little leopard on the bed quickly raised his eyes and they flashed coldly, his hind limbs exerting force to jump up and over to Eric.

Eric was caught off guard and he staggered back two steps, feeling in front of him that black——

That leopard was lying on top of his face.

Immediately afterwards, it pointed its pointed claws at his face and, with both hands, he successfully dragged six bloodstains down Eric's cheeks.

"Oh——"

Eric covered his face and cried out loud.

Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu: ". . ."

 When had this leopard and deer gotten into such a knotted grudge. . . ?

*

Because of the darkness outside, the dinner was eaten inside Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu's house.

It was a meal to end all thoughts.

Eric would, from time to time, look to Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu's side where the leopard laid, with his expressionless face, and if the cub did anything at all, he would immediately stand and tightly guard Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu behind him.

Just like the first time he saw the leopard cub.

And if Eric tried to say anything to Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu in a whisper, the leopard would immediately dart to Eric's side and unsheathe his claws as a threat.

Thus, Eric, with his blood-stained face, sullenly finished dinner.

Afterwards, Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu took the initiative to clean up the dishes and the chopsticks.

Eric did not stay long and was preparing to leave.

But before departing, he looked profoundly into Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu's eyes then the little leopard's, and though he wanted to say something, ended up leaving without saying a word.

Sending Eric off, Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu pointed at the leopard's head and said, "Táo Táo, how can you be so mean to Eric?"

"Táo Táo" was shouted out.

Ryan was too lazy to lift his eyelids, and he refused to recognize this stupid name.

Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu also hadn't expected to see his hind leg's bandages were shredded apart. And though she didn't know how he had done it, she moved aside the wooden bench by the fireplace and carefully reapplied the bandage.

The burning fire in the fireplace made the room warm and serene.

Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu wrapped the bandage around to one side and warned, "You're still injured and now you're hurt again. Even when it gets better, you might be left with sequelae*. It's winter now and Eric said there's going to be a blizzard in a few days. We should stay here for a while. Take advantage of the time and let this wound heal.

*an abnormal condition resulting from a precious injury, illness or disease

Ryan did not respond, and he was thinking about something else.

Why did he return to this size so soon after reaching his original shape?

What did this have to do with Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu's "space"?

After his wound was dressed, Ryan laid on Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu's legs and patted the back of her hand with his paw pads, tilting his head to stare at her.

Trying to enter her space again

To no avail, Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu did not know what was in Ryan's heart and only say him acting spoiled, like a cat treating its own family, so she scratched under his head, "Well, you lie here. I need to go out for a while, I'll be back soon."

Eric's face was full of bloody scratches. There shouldn't be any rabies virus here, but it would be better to make sure.

But when Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu found Eric, he was already asleep so she had to give up.

*

Early the next morning, Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu woke from her sleep. The leopard was lying on the table next to the fireplace with his eyes closed in slumber.

The courtyard was silent, Eric had gone out even earlier.

Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu remembered that light night Eric said he was going to meet the Elk Village patriarch but would come back around noon.

Eric had prepared breakfast before leaving and left Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu some.

The room next to Eric's was the kitchen. It was similar to the kitchen of rural areas in the 1970s or 1980s, with a stone brick stove hollowed out in the middle and a large wok set there, capable of making simple dishes.

Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu opened the bamboo lid and saw inside three pieces of steaming, fluffy, and golden corn cakes, along with a small dish of honey.

Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu scooped out some honey with a wooden spoon and spread it on the cakes. They were soft and tasted sweet and delicious.

Filling her belly, Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu took some cereal and soaked it in milk, feeding it to the leopard as breakfast.

Shortly after, she heard Eric's voice coming back from outside.

Eric's cheeks were visibly scratched on both sides but, though it looked a little funny, he seemed very happy.

"The sweet potato field behind the village is ripe and the patriarch has invited me to dig potatoes in the afternoon. He promised to give me some if the harvest is good."

Because of the impending snowstorm, Eric had to spend more time in the Elk Village.

There is very little food in winter and there was not much for the Elk to share with Eric. If Eric wanted to fill his belly, he had to go out and look for other ingredients.

Right now, with Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu and the little leopard, the weight on Eric's shoulders were not light.

——Though, he was very reluctant to feed the leopard.

If he could get some sweet potatoes this time, then they would not have to worry about food for the next few days.

"Really? That's great."

Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu was happy for him and could not help but ask after a moment of thought, "Eric, can I go with you this afternoon?"

Eric said, "The snow outside has not melted and walking is very difficult. If you want something, just tell me, Ōu, and I'll bring it back."

Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu pondered it over but still insisted, "I want to go out and see for myself."

Before, on the way to the village, she was in a hurry to find a place to stay and did not pay careful attention to her surroundings.

But now she wanted to go back and make sure.

*

That afternoon, Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu and Eric went together.

Because she knew the beastmen here were afraid of the carnivores, this time Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu did not bring the leopard with her and left it at home alone.

The sweet potato field was located to the rear of the village and was about 78 acres, surrrounded by a low fence wall.

Once at the grounds, Eric raised his sleeves and helped the clansmen of the village.

Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu turned away nearby.

She had gone out for two things this time.

Although the fireplace here burned at night, it was ice and snow outside and Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu only had a thin blanket that wasn't warm enough.

If she could find cotton around here, making a quilt would make things much warmer.

The other thing she wanted to do was to find something to cover up the scent of estrus.

Ovulation only lasted about a week in women and she could not always rely on the smell of pepper and spices. She had to find something else.

Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu remembered that on the way to the village she had seen something similar to cotton on the side of the road.

She had unfortunately been too anxious to take a closer look.

She followed the path back a ways and carefully watched the plants around her.

There were not many plants in winter and she could see the end in a single glance.

It did not take long before she saw a plant that looked like cotton with soft bits in it.

The cotton was white and it was the same color as the surrounding snow.

It was easy to ignore if one wasn't looking carefully.

Was there a difference between this flower and real cotton?

Would it make the quilt warm enough?

Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu temporarily decided to hold onto the cotton and think about it again later.

The people here shouldn't know the use of cotton and to see this piece of open space filled with it. No one was picking them and their buds bulged, unexpectedly thriving even in winter.

Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu filled a bamboo basket full but still felt it wasn't enough, so she put a lot of it into her space.

Checking the time, it was almost time for her and Eric to meet up.

On the road back, Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu saw catnip covered in snow her eyes brightened. She quickly picked some and put it into her basket.

Finding the two things she needed most, Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu was satisfied and her footsteps very relaxed.

Back at the sweet potato fields, Eric was just finishing his picking and they returned to the Elk Village together.

They hadn't entered the village yet but could see a lot of the beastmen standing inside, then a female screamed.

Faintly they could hear them say, "Drive it out", "Get it out of here", "He's going to bite us", and so on.

Having been there for two days, Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu understood the Elk race's character.

They were gentle and friendly, and they rarely clashed with other races, much less shouting like this now.

Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu's heart sped up, and she suddenly had a bad feeling.

She quickened her pace and poked through the crowd to get to the front.

Still unsettled, she heard the deafening roar of the elk patriarch——

"Who brought this carnivorous species here?!"

Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu looked up and saw that in front there was a rectangular wooden table covered with corn.

And on top, where the sun was warm, feeling immensely pleased with itself, her little leopard was curled up on the corn.

Basking in the sun, he leisurely glanced around at the crowd.

Soon, the blue eyes turned and fell on Jǐ Xiǎo Ōu.

His lazy and dismissive attitude contrasted sharply with the patriarch's anger.

End Chapter 18 of 77

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12 comments:

  1. Oh dear, does that meant they are about to lost their shelter. Thanks for this chapter.

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    1. You're welcome, and yeah, there may be complications ahead. . .

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  2. Meatbun Delivery~
    Thank you for the chapter ( ●w●)

    Little Tao Tao got lonely and went to play outside~

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    Replies
    1. Oh yes he did. . . and what a feline he is. Making trouble for his owner without thinking of the consequences and then puttering around with arrogance all over it. . . but that's why we love cats. They're just so perfectly tsundere.

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    2. I like dogs more than cats cause i got a bit of bad experience playing with cats.. i think they're too fickle.. one minute they like their head rubbed, the next they suddenly clawed my hand Q_Q

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    3. The play bites? Yeah, I have scars from mine. Cats tend to scratch unintentionally from over-excitement or from over-stimulation. Mine loves to sit on bellies and be pet on his back, but he has that reflexive urge to nip a wrist when he's really happy. He used to scratch, but his claws are really sharp and he figured out that it hurt us, so he now gets up and walks away when he starts nipping.

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  3. thanks---!
    lol poor eric! but wait...wasn't ryan able to talk? so he's purposely not talking to ou, then? no wayyy!

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    Replies
    1. Yep! Remember that scene where he talks with Rhode and Dole? Hehe, he's been rather insistent on keeping quiet around her.

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    2. nooo! ryan, you're a disappointment! but i do understand why he doesn't speak ot her, but still! i would prefer seeing them converse!

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    3. Hmm, if I remember correctly, that isn't all that far away~

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