Blog, The Fantasy Realm

A Fantasy Realm Tale: Bilberry’s Dwelling for Critters

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*The following is a transcript of a WHUS Radio FM broadcast aired on Wednesday, February 20, 2019 from 1-2 PM along with the music used to accompany the story*

BILBERRY’S DWELLING FOR CRITTERS


{Legends of Azeroth (Main Title) – Tracy Bush – World of Warcraft}

Good afternoon, traveler. You have stepped into a portal here on WHUS Storrs and are now in the Fantasy Realm. Welcome. I am your guide, The Sage. Today, we follow in the footsteps of a petshop owner and a lover of exotic beasts. For your enjoyment, I recommend creating a character to follow along. What do you carry in your explorer’s pack? What other languages do you speak? The common tongue? Dwarvish? Goblin? What are your essential adventurer’s tools? You get to decide, and best think quick, traveler. Your story is about to begin.

{Jack Sparrow – Hans Zimmer – Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest OST}

Munderic Brutus Bilberry swabs the deck with his barefoot on a soiled bandana. The rowboat rocks with the ocean. On the side, in scraggly script, are carved the words, “Marmaduc’s Dinghy.” After an unfortunate turn of events at a game of cards and dice, you have joined Brutus’ naval crew, bringing the total number of members to two. Brutus pulls out his eyeglass which he keeps hidden under his braided beard, right next to his compass and a whistle that makes no sound. He scans the horizon as you row the boat. You’re nearing your third day on the dinghy, and you silently hope you don’t have to spend another night with Brutus’ toes near your face, the waft of salty ocean water and rotten soap filling your sense of smell.

“Blimey! We’ve made it!” Brutus giggles as he dances a little jig in his seat. He points to the west and urges you to turn the boat. As you do just that, he begins to gather all his things. He packs it all in a large traveler’s pack, and then grabs his wooden walking stick.

Seeing nothing, you keep rowing normally, until Brutus pops his head up and yelps. “Slow down!” You both crash. Your eyes widen as you look down to see the dinghy glide up onto sand.

“Lucky Marmaduc knows how to make a proper dinghy, ay?” Brutus laughs through his nose as he climbs out. Still seeing nothing in front of you, you’re a bit hesitant, but you step onto the sand you’ve landed on. Then, as if a mirror facing the ocean was lifted, you see an island in front of you. An outcry of birds squawking, animals growling and leaves rustling overpower the ocean’s waves.

“Come on, harpy, mustn’t keep them waiting!” With a funny-looking strut, Brutus heads into the jungle. You follow.

Though an elderly man, Brutus traverses the jungle like an expert adventurer. Not a fallen trunk nor a muddy patch can stop Brutus. You both then reach a large, gaping hole in the ground. Brutus’ nose wrinkles as he looks around. Then, he calls to you to grab a vine hanging off a tree nearby. He tugs at it, and it’s as sturdy as a board. He wraps the vine around his legs, steps back, and then swings across the hole. Then, he throws the vine at you.

“Your turn, dewberry!” The vine feels scratchy against your palm. You take a few deep breaths and then swing across. The wind whirls around you as you swing. By the time you catch your breath after landing, you notice Brutus is far from you, marching deeper into the jungle.

Soon enough, you catch up to him crouching behind a bush. He’s looking at a town that swarms the clear meadow in the jungle. In this town, houses are made of rocks, lamps are made of fruit, and the paths are lined with bones. Green goblins stroll about their town, unaware of the pairs of eyes watching them from the bushes.

“There he is,” Brutus says looking off to the side. There’s a small boy in a cage, pulling at his ears with a frown. The cage is guarded by a goblin digging for treasure up his nostrils. The keys are planted carelessly on the ground.

“Right,” Brutus says handing his pack to you. “There are some stink bags in there. When I give ya the signal, fling it at ‘em. Cover the whole place with stink. Oh, yea, and hold ya breath while you’re at it. They really do stink.”

He then tiptoes to the cage and nods at you. Holding your breath, you toss a stink bag at the town. It hits the ground and a greenish-brown smog erupts from the small bag. Goblins cough ferociously as you toss another one over the bush.

Brutus swings his walking stick at the guard of the cage, knocking the goblin over. The small boy is grinning ear-to-ear at the sight, trying to suppress his own coughing from the bit of dust that reached them. Brutus is ready to march back toward you when the boy pulls at his trousers.

You notice that a small goblin child was also in that cage with the small boy. The goblin child is shy as he looks up at Brutus.

Brutus gives the small boy an impatient sigh, but eventually motions the goblin child forward. The two young ones follow Brutus back to you.

Before you can march off, three goblins with thick wooden sticks and makeshift masks stop you in your path.

Brutus steps before you and the children, his own walking stick in hand. You hold onto his bag as he steps forward.

“It’s not that I can’t handle ya’s,” he says, “but I just really want to avoid getting that stink on me. Just let us through, will ya?”

The goblins don’t move.

Brutus shrugs, “Well, alright then.”

He then cracks his neck and attacks. The goblins are no match for Brutus as his bare feet kick at their stomachs and his wooden stick knocks them to the ground. He leaps around like a rabbit in the fight, and he laughs loudly as he bounces about. The goblins are like gophers. One goes down when the other is back in the fight. Brutus slaps one goblin, punches another, and bites the ear of the third. He whacks their heads and swats away their weapons.

Behind you, the smog starts to die down. The natural aroma of the jungle is starting to replace the stink.

“Oh!” Brutus notices this as well. “Time for port!” He then grabs the heads of two goblins and smashes them both into the third. He starts to run back toward the beach. The two children follow, and you eventually do the same.

Darts fly past your ear as you race to the beach. You look back to see a whole clan of goblins with darts in hand that they spit at you. You zig zag through the jungle, avoiding their darts.

As you and the children settle into the dinghy, Brutus sets a trap on the beach for the goblins.

He’s the last to get on the small boat. The goblins reach the beach. As planned, one goblin falls right into the trap and the smog blows up in the goblin’s face.

A crescendo of coughing takes over the island as you depart.

Brutus is roaring with laughter. He puts his hands at his ears, sticks his tongue out and mockingly says, “Na na na na na.”

As you row your way back to the island of Tilly-ann, Brutus settles into the boat and pulls out his pipe for a celebratory smoke. This is only the start of your adventure, traveler, with Munderic Brutus Bilberry. I hope you’ve come prepared for a wild tale.

{Town (Folk Version) – Christian Levitan & ElectroMachine 2.0 – Tribute to Michiko Naruke, Wild Arms}

Off the coast of the mainland Gialia, there is an island that is shaped like a sleeping puppy. This is the island of Tilly-ann. Those who enjoy the taste of adventure and the company of strange antics make their stay on Tilly-ann.

Only recently inhabited, the island only has one town that covers its northern coast. The rest of the island is pure tropical jungle.

The town itself is quite friendly. Each building is a different color, and each door is a different shape. All sorts of people like on Tilly-ann. Inventors, musicians, comic book artists, bakers, all with their own shops and stores to offer their skills.

As you might expect, this is where Brutus resides, inside how own shop named “Bilberry’s Dwelling for Critters.”

As you secure the dinghy at the harbor, after another two long days at sea, you hear Brutus scolding the young boy. Brutus, that old man, slept through the whole trip and is only now giving the small boy a piece of his mind.

“Listen here now, when I tell ya to not listen to a dang word a goblin tells ya, I mean it. They’re tricky little things, they are. Next time they come to do business, you leave ’em to me, as I’ve told you to!”

You’re right behind the young boy whose head is dangling. “I just wanted to make ya proud,” the boy mutters.

Brutus halts and turns to the boy. “You already run the pet shop, Padgett. You leave me time for my critters, and that makes me real happy. I’m already proud of ya! Couldn’t have asked for a better nephew, but you still got lots to learn.”

Brutus is about to start walking again when his eyes land on the young goblin. “And who might you be?” Brutus asks.

Padgett answers, “This is Pelsi. The clan cast her out when she tried to help me.”

“Well alright then. Padgett, you’ve got yourself a partner, unless you’d rather go elsewhere.”

Pelsi the Goblin frantically shakes her head and salutes Brutus.

“Right then! To the dwelling we go!”

The town is really just one long road with a row of buildings on each side, at the very end of which lies the entrance to the jungle.

As you walk through the town, people left and right are greeting Brutus with hi-ya’s, hello’s, and salutations coated with bubbly spirits.

To your left, you pass a shop that’s a shy blue with a door shaped like an oar. The shop is called “Marmaduc’s Boats and Other Boatsy Things,” and on the porch sits Marmaduc testing out some nautical knots on rope. He offers a friendly wave to you all as you pass by.

Brutus does make a few pit stops on the way. He picks up a meal from the tavern for dinner, a new pair of shoes to replace the ones he lost at the cards and dice game, and some packages at the mail post which is run by a man who likes to build toward out of stamps.

You are nearing the end of the town’s road, and just before you walk into the jungle, you see Bilberry’s Dwelling for Critters, the very last building on the right. You’re not sure if it’s the largest building, but it certainly is the noisiest, for a concert of critter-like squeaks, squawks, hoots, and howls come from inside. If it weren’t for the jungle right next door, a lot of neighbors would file a noise complaint with the town’s sheriff who likes to polish his badge 13 times a day.

The building is a respectable gray, and as Brutus puts his key into the lock, you notice that the door is in the shape of a dragon’s tail.

{Industrious Ferret – Kevin MacLeod – Ferret}

Walking into Bilberry’s Dwelling for Critters is like walking into a jungle with products hidden in the crooks and crannies of tree trunks, leaves, and vines. The walls are practically non-existent, covered in jungle-like flora as well as packaged items for customers and lodging for small critters.

Creatures roam the floor, shelves and space of the building, free to move about as they please, save for those in installed ponds in the ground who need water to live.

All the way in the back, there is a greenhouse. The walls are pure glass and all of Brutus’ supplies and tools seem so out of place with all the jungle and critters dominating the area.

Brutus is the owner of a home for exotic wildlife. With his abundant skills in animals, he takes care of those strange animals that have been injured or abandoned. When the animal is ready, it is released back into the wild. The home is also a pet shop where people come to buy domestic pets and pet supplies, but that part of the shop is taken care of by Padgett.

The animals that Brutus takes care of can range from little Skubeests who have yet to grow into their paws, giant Beewings with broken claws, and Salabies who like to swim in milk when they’re first born.

In the greenhouse, Brutus has all his supplies to take care of his wild critters. He has long wooden tables covered in jars, vials, and glasses; in plants, dented cages, and candles, in rope, feathers and tools; in buckets, eggs and keys. There is no rhyme or reason to Brutus’ corner of the dwelling, and he very much likes to keep it that way.

He thanks you for your efforts. You’ve succeeded in what you promised you’d do when you lost your hand at the cards and dice game. He tells you you’re free to go.

Something, however, tells you to stay. You’re not sure if it’s the giddy air around the place, or the inviting chirps of the Rilillias, or even if it’s Brutus’ funny little dance as he greets the coughing Salabie on his table. Whatever it is, it’s telling you to stay, and you decide to do just that.

You let Brutus know and he says, “Well, if you’d like, you can go around and feed the babes. It’s around feeding time. Padgett can help ya.”

You go to look for Padgett. He gives you a bucket and tells you to feed all the aquatic life in both the ponds and the aquariums that are nestled inside tree trunks. Pelsi the Goblin is feeding all the flying critters while Padgett takes care of the rest of the them.

You all go around and feed the babies in the respective habitats that aren’t ready to be sold as pets yet.

When you’re done, Padgett instructs you to tidy up the greenhouse. While in the greenhouse, your eye catches a Kokirigale.

A Kokirigale is a winged squirrel that often has blue and green fur. It looks so fluffy and its eyes so sweet, you desperately want to pet it.

You unlock the cage it is in to see if you can pet it, but it turns into a terrible, terrible mistake. It jumps out, screaming in a high-pitched tone. It begins to jump around the greenhouse and wreak havoc in the shop.

Before you even realize what you’ve done, all the critters are raising their voices and sprinting through the shop, and all the perfectly stored products are falling and crashing to the ground.

All because of one silly little squirrel.

{Bonetrousle (From “Undertale”) – Taylor Davis}

Padgett shoves a large net into your hands and tells you to catch the kokirigale. You, Padgett and Pelsi the Goblin run around the shop like madmen, trying to catch the critter.

The kokirigale flies around the shop, purposefully knocking items off the shelves and sometimes crashing into other critters for fun.

All the other critters are hyper, following you as you run through the aisles. Pupperlings jump about with their flappy ears, barking and yapping at the kokirigale. Flutterfelines duck into small places, avoiding the altercation.

All the critters are out of control, and even the injured critters in the greenhouse are getting loud with all them joining in on the auditory chaos.

Can you catch the kokirigale, traveler?

You manage to catch the kokirigale, but it bites its way through the net.

Brutus joins in on the madness with a far better net meant for melodiles and frothgators. With a whistle and swing of the net, Brutus catches the kokirigale.

The shop’s energy lowers as Padgett helps critters back to their lodging. The shop is a complete mess.

Before Brutus can get a stern word in, thought, the door slams open and a dark figure comes in.

{Warriors – Ronan Hardiman – Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance}

In the mainland Gialia, there is a clan of northern criminals who practice Celtic magic. They are known as The Outlaws. The Outlaws were power-hungry bandits who prayed on the weak until they were captured and sent to prison.

However, years later, they escaped and decided to relocate to the island of Tilly-ann. No one knows where they reside on the island. Only that every once in a while they come out and threaten the innocent shopkeepers of Tilly-ann, as they’re doing now in Bilberry’s Dwelling for Critters.

A tall man in a block robe marches in and pulls a wand out of his sleeve. He casts a spell to clean up the dwelling as more men in black robes invade and inspect the area.

The man with the wand approaches Brutus with a tsk tsk in his teeth. “Mr. Bilberry, last time I came to visit, you were behind on payments. I checked this mornin’ and you’re still behind. I cannot keep pushing off the deadline, Mr. Bilberry, so tell me, where is my coin?”

Brutus clears his throat as he keeps his eyes to the floor, “I don’t have it.”

This is the first time you see Brutus in a completely different light. He seems small, unsure of himself, scared even. All that encompasses Brutus’ personality seems to have disappeared out of nowhere.

“Let me remind you, Mr. Bilberry, that I can tidy up this sorry excuse of an establishment in the blink of an eye. I can destroy it just as quickly too. I can even start with the owner, the one who won’t pay his due.”

The Outlaws are about to hurt Brutus, but you step in. Can you convince The Outlaws to allow you some more time to get the money?

Well done, traveler. The Outlaws are convinced, but you are given only three days before they return to destroy the dwelling, including all the critters.

{Davy Jones – Hans Zimmer – Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest OST}

Brutus saunters to the greenhouse, and you follow. You ask him why he can’t stand up to those men? He has defeated goblins all on his own, wrangled some of the toughest wild beasts, and has traveled like an adventurer. Surely, he can take on a few bandits.

Brutus shakes his head as he sinks into an armchair. “You don’t know these men like I do. I know. I’ve seen them at their worst.”

Padgett comes in with gloves on and tells Brutus that the kokirigale will need a washing. Brutus puts on his best smile and tells him to go ahead and be careful.

When Padgett leaves, Brutus’ face falls to despair.

“Padgett’s my boy now, because he’s go no one else. My sister, his mum, Berna, she was killed by The Outlaws back when we lived on Gialia.”

He sighs and tells you the tale. “When Berna and I became orphans, we were in a pretty tough spot money-wise. We were left with a debt by our parents, targets for The Outlaws. Berna and I worked day and night to keep up with payments and debt, and eventually it drove Berna mad. She wanted to be done with all of it so desperately. It got even worse when she lost her husband who helped us with the payments. She didn’t want her boy to be in the mess we were forced into. She decided to take matters into her own hands.

“One night, she goes to The Outlaws’ mansion and hunts down all the paperwork with our names on ’em. Then, she burns them. She was so sure they had so much outstanding debt with other people that they’d never notice the Bilberry file go missing. But they had the best accountant coin can buy. He could sniff out a missing penny in his sleep. Didn’t take long for them to learn what she did.

“They killed her… and all the debt was left to me. When The Outlaws were captured, I took Padgett and me to Tilly-ann for a new life, but those sly ground-hounds escaped and made their place here. Didn’t take long for them to learn I was here too, and a debt still had to be paid.”

Yes, a debt still had to be paid, and Brutus now works not to provide for his critters and beasts, but to pay The Outlaws the debt that is due.

{The Golden Lotus – Russell Brower – World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria}

A downcast and low-spirited Brutus drifts over to his desk in the greenhouse. He pulls out a tall pile of letters, all with golden ink seals. They have a thick layer of dust on them, and they’re stained with round coffee marks.

Brutus tells you these letters are from wealthy people looking to impress their friends with exotic pets. It’s not enough these days to just have a puppering or a flutterfeline or even a tank of salabies.

He gets about four or five of these letters a year, but they always end up in the same cupboard. He never entertains the idea of fetching these wild critters to sell them off to these people, but given the circumstances, he feels he has no choice.

He picks three random letters and only opens them for a few seconds to see which critters they ask for.

He asks you if you’ll join him in looking for these creatures. You say yes, though it pains you to see him so low. He rubs his hand across his face, getting rid of any tear stains.

Then, he shakes his head and gives you a smile; a smile only a certain Munderic Brutus Bilberry can give.

“Well! Off to another adventure! These creatures can only be found at Gialia, so off to the mainland we go!”

After gathering his things, Brutus heads to the front of the shop. He leaves Padgett and Pelsi the Goblin in charge of the shop while you’re gone. It’ll already take two days to sail to the mainland, but Brutus tells you to worry not. “Marmaduc has some secret projects that only a Bilberry knows about!”

So, you two leave the shop and head for Marmaduc’s Boats and Other Boatsy Things.

{Bastian’s Happy Flight – Giorgio Moroder & Klaus Doldinger – The NeverEnding Story OST}

Marmaduc is an expert at all forms of transport that go out to sea. Marmaduc is also a man who gets bored after a while, so recently, he has been trying something new: aerodynamics.

He has constructed miniature airplanes and hot air balloons which he tests with his mumble-mice as passengers, however, he has only just finished his first true airship meant for travel. However, it has yet to be tested.

You and Brutus will be the first to try out Marmaduc’s airship.

With some help from Marmaduc, you manage to get the airship into the air. The airship sounds like an old lady snoring, but funny enough, it smells a bit like the beach. Marmaduc says he wouldn’t be surprised if some of the machinery has some sand in its screws.

As you ascend, Brutus gets excited. He does his little dance as you direct the ship to the mainland.

The ocean is a purple-ish green color, the foam a soft pink.n It looks like the war an artist dips their brush into, before it turns to that sickly gray color.

The air smells clean like fresh linen, and the sky is vast. After a few minutes, there is no land about. Brutus invites you to sit next to him, and he asks you to tell him the funniest memory you have.

What is the funniest memory you have, traveler?

Gialia is showing up on the horizon. She is magnificent; her beaches shining with white sand and the pine trees are dark against the background.

You steer to the left toward a forest. As you hover over the forest’s trees, you can hear the kokirigales singing a cheery song.

Brutus tells you the first animal on your list is a malleon which is a mix of a bob cat and a lion. According to Brutus, these kinds of beasts are difficult to find, but most will respond to a sound only they can hear.

Brutus digs under his braided beard and pulls out his whistle that makes no sound. He takes a deep breath and whistles silence into the air. You land the airship in the forest. Brutus says it’ll take some time before she comes out, and he’s right. You wait a full hour until finally, a female malleon shows herself.

She has a beautiful white coat and soft creme mane. She is gracefully strolling through trees when you look to Brutus and see him pull out a ball of yarn the size of a grown person’s head.

{Kokiri Forest (From “Ocarina of Time”) – Taylor Davis – Melodies of Hyrule: Music from “The Legend of Zelda”)

Brutus throws the ball of yarn to the malleon. It steals her attention, and in no time at all, she’s a playful creature having fun with her new toy. Brutus giggles at the sight, then starts to scavenge his bad.

He then pulls out a skinny vial of yellow liquid. “Right,” he says as he hands the vial to you, “This here’s a sleeping draught. I made it myself! If you pour this on a critter, it’ll release some dust into the air that’ll get the critter to sniff itself to sleep. No harm done. I’ll keep her attention on me. You pour this onto her.”

Brutus scurries to her with a hearty laugh and a skip in his step. He plays with the malleon as if they’ve been friends for years.

You’ve got the potion ready to go, but Brutus and the malleon are moving a lot, and it’s hard to get a good angle on the creature to pour the potion onto it.

Can you find a way pour the potion onto the malleon, traveler?

Nicely done, traveler! You’ve successfully gotten the malleon to go to sleep. You and Brutus get her onto the airship and take off the next destination.

{A Peaceful Place – Jeremy Zuckerman – The Legend of Korra: Original Music from Book One}

Not far from the forest, there is a star-shaped lake in the middle of the field. The lake has turquoise waters, and cattails line its edges like a natural fence for the lake’s inhabitants. Baydeer lap at the water in the lake as winged frogs leap out of the water and dive right back in.

You land the airship without disturbing the wildlife.

Brutus instructs you to prepare the 2.5 gallon tank with the water in the lake as well as a relaxing potion Brutus brought.

You do all that and even include some aquatic plants to make it more homey. Meanwhile, Brutus sits cross-legged right at the edge of the lake. He pulls out a wooden flue and starts to play a peaceful tune.

You listen and pay close attention to the water. Even the baydeer stop drinking the water to listen to Brutus’ calming music. The water begins to sparkle, like stars twinkling in a turquoise sky. You shoulders become loose and your breathing slows. The grass beneath you begins to feel like a flutterfeline’s fur. The lake becomes a place of tranquility.

Out from the depths of the lake emerges a Seetea which is a large koi fish that produces the most delicious tea with its scales. Brutus picks up the Seetea and gently places it into the tank. Then, you both calmly bring it back to the airship, and take off for your final destination.

{Forbidden Friendship – John Powell – How To Train Your Dragon OST}

The airship flies deeper into Gialia and approaches a mountain. You manage to land on a flat field between the mountains. As you land the airship, Brutus tells you to stay inside for this beast takes some extra care to lure out.

Brutus climbs out with a bag over his shoulder. He walks to the center of the field and blows into his soundless whistle. He then begins to place a circle of flower petals onto the snowy grass. Once he’s done, he goes around and sprays all the flower petals with another potion of his making, though you don’t know what this one does.

Then, he steps away from the circle and patiently waits with his pipe in his hand. The smoke puffed from his pipe turns to butterflies before it is blown away by the wind.

Many different creatures roam many different worlds, traveler. Some creatures are seen more than once in different places, recorded in ancient tales, such as fairies, mermaids and dragons.

In this world, the land of Gialia is home to many different dragons. The one Brutus hopes to catch today is called a lindwurm.

The lindwurm is a dragon-like creature. It’s like a large snake but with two arms or an even larger salamander without the back two legs. It has no wings, so it cannot fly, but the lindwurm produces eggs with incredibly valuable shells, more valuable than any other dragon eggs.

You start to get a bit sleepy with how long you wait for a lindwurm, but the creature does eventually show up. The lindwurm almost blends in with the snow, its scales glistening as snow does with the sun overhead.

The lindwurm approaches the circle of flower petals gingerly. Snifffing, it slithers over using its two arms to help guide its way.

Brutus stands. The lindwurm notices him and flashes its fangs, but Brutus doesn’t panic. Instead, he lowers his head and bows to the creature.

The lindwurm sniffs Brutus, even licks Brutus’ head at one point, but Brutus does not falter.

Satisfied, the lindwurm bows to Brutus for a quick moment then goes back to sniffing all the petals.

Ever so carefully, Brutus takes baby steps toward the lindwurm. In a low voice, Brutus introduces himself and continues to talk as if chatting up a new friend at the local tavern.

The lindwurm just keeps sniffing away happily, and eventually, Brutus is able to pet the creature is so comfortable with him. Brutus has a smile so pure, even the most evil creatures would feel warm and fuzzy inside.

The world is still as man and beast enjoy each other’s company. You almost wonder if Brutus has forgotten that this creature will be sold to a person with enough coin in their pocket. In a scene so quaint, perhaps that is the only way Brutus can even go through it all.

So, for a moment, you too forget that this creature will be sold away and enjoy the sight of an old man nuzzling a lindwurm’s head, both of them with eyes shut.

{Rue’s Farewell – James Newton Howard – The Hunger Games OST}

Baby lindwurms slither over to their mother. They squeal as they roll about in the snow. They eventually notice Brutus’ presence and begin to investigate, sniffing his trousers and licking his boots.

Brutus giggles as he watches the babies. “Oh, you’re a monster, eh?” Brutus giggles as he watches the babes. “That’s real sweet. These babes must still be in their first few months of life. I bet you’re starting to get real tired of them though, eh? Usually around half a year is when lindwurm babes are left to fend for themselves. Musn’t be too bad to have some company though, though I know how you love your solitary lifestyle.”

As Brutus speaks, you notice dread and gloom begin to coat his words. Brutus’ shoulders droop and his head lowers. His smile is gone, and once again, you see Brutus become small.

Brutus’ head jerks up to see a baby lindwurm struggling to slither over to him. The baby lindwurm has a broken limb.

“Blimey! Poor thing!” Brutus tells you to bring his traveling bag to him. When you do, Brutus kneels next to the injured baby lindwurm and starts to take out all his supplies.

The mother seems a bit curious, but she doesn’t impede. She merely observes. Brutus is able to make a cast of sorts to straighten out the young lindwurm’s limb.

At first, the baby lindwurm is confused. It bites at the cast and yanks at it, but it’s tightly bound.

“Worry not,” Brutus tells the mother, “The adhesive dissolves in a few months. By then, he’ll be all straightened out.”

The baby lindwurm has some trouble adjusting, but eventually, it’s able to slither around just as fast as it’s siblings. The mother is happy, cooing at her young. Brutus pulls out a few treats for them, and all the lindwurms nibble eagerly.

You’re so take by the scene, you don’t notice Brutus staring off into the distance or his fingers digging into his leather pouch. You only notice it when the air starts to feel heavy. You see Brutus’ eyes are staring into something else entirely. The corners of his eyes start to tear up and his lips quiver while he’s deep in thought.

The lindwurms start to settle in the circle as you kneel next to Brutus to see if you can get his attention.

That is when you notice determination take over his gloomy thoughts.

“I’m a monster,” Brutus says, “To think I even considered selling off the precious creatures. They’re not meant for domesticated homes. They belong to this natural world, and I tried to sell them. I don’t think I can ever forgive myself for this.

“Screw those Outlaws and their heavy handed threats. I am Munderic Brutus Bilberry! I will take any hit, but hurt those I care for, and best believe your nanny, I am a force to be reckoned with! Let those vain, fool-born dewberries come at my shop. They’ll learn who it is they’re really messin’ with.”

“Come,” he tells you, leaving the lindwurms behind. “We’ve got plannin’ to do.”

You now follow a brave man who has faced a debt far worse than that of The Outlaws; a debt he is not willing to pay.

{A Wolf Stands Up – The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra – Music from the Twilight Saga}

After you return the seetea and the malleon to their natural habitat, you soar through the sky back to the island of Tilly-ann. Brutus has a new air about him. He stands just a bit taller, his jaw is a just a bit more set and his eyes are more focused than ever.

You land right past the pet shop. You rush in after Brutus.

Padgett and Pelsi the Goblin are shocked at Brutus’ rush. You explain you’re not exactly sure what Brutus is planning. You three stare at him as starts to pull all kinds of supplies out of the greenhouse and to the front: rope, cages, pulleys, glass jars, etc.

“Well, you’re gonna stand there and gawk or are you gonna help?”

You’re not really sure how to help, so what do you do? How will you help the hasty Brutus, traveler?

You finish prepping the place to Brutus’ liking. When it’s all done, Brutus climbs onto a few stacked crates and addresses you and the two kids.

“Bilberry’s Dwelling for Critters is a home for domesticated pets to find good homes and for ailed creatures to get treatment so they can return home. This is not a place to find petty coin for some criminal clan. We will not risk losing this home, for the sake of these creatures. I’ve been in a sticky pickle once or twice. I’ve gotten out then, I can do it now! So, will you help me save my critters and protect this home?”

The three of you shout in agreement, ready to do what it takes to face the hooligans when they come.

{United We Stand, Divided We Fall – Two Steps From Hell – Archangel}

You are perched on the roof of the dwelling, hiding behind a chimney. You see The Outlaws surrounding the area with their leader ready to barge in the door. You alert everyone inside with a kokirigale call.

As expected, the tall man barges into the shop. Brutus is sitting calmly on an armchair reading an upside-down newspaper. The tall man is asking for his coin, but you see Brutus shake his head. The kokirigale flies into the room and lands on Brutus’ head. There’s a beat of silence, and then, the kokirigale sounds off its siren, screaming in its high-pitched tone. All the creatures go wild, scaring the Outlaws.

Hiding on the tops of the shelves are Padgett and Pelsi the Goblin throwing socks filled with fresh droppings from the cages. You throw a stink bag at The Outlaws guarding the back of the building, then you slid down the dwelling and enter it.

Brutus faces off against the tall man with his walking stick. Pupperlings bite at some legs of the other Outlaws while Flutterfelines scratch their faces without holding back. Other critters come out to join in the fight. Some swing their tails to deliver a blow, others kick the backs of legs to send the enemy to their knees, and others simply run through the store to add more confusion. A cacophony of animal sounds, fighting grunts and running feet overtakes the entire town on the island. It’s like the roof will literally be blown off Bilberry’s Dwelling for Critters.

Do you join in the chaos, traveler?

Eventually the Outlaws fall back, running away as fast as they can from the creatures.

The tall man is outnumbered, and he scurries on his back away from Brutus who stands over him. His face is riddled with concern and fear.

Brutus steps onto the man’s wand, snapping it in half. Brutus tells him, “Erase the Bilberry debt. Consider it paid. I best not see you back here threatening my family ever again.”

With a frantic nod and sprint away from the building, the tall man crawls to the door then runs off scared.

It sounds like complete magic when you hear Brutus roaring with laughter. He puts his hands at his ears, sticks his tongue out and mockingly says, “Na na na na na.”

{Eleanor Plunkett – Clannad – Clannad 2}

The whole town is standing in front of the building and applauding. Even the creatures seem euphoric as they stroll their way back into their home.

Brutus holds his hands up. Padgett and Pelsi the Goblin join him at his side.

In a booming voice, he announces, “From this day forward, Bilberry’s Dwelling for Critters will sell no animal. Those domesticated waiting for a home will no longer have a price tag. They are now adoptable. If you adopt your newest family member here at my shop, you will find your home brighter than any other in this town, and once all homes have a critter, this whole town will shine brighter than even the stars above us. Pet supplies are still for sale though, I’m afraid. A Bilberry’s got to make a living, eh?”

The crowd laughs with Brutus and the people swarm the shop, looking at all the beautiful animals ready to be adopted and to join a forever home.

Brutus has a grin from ear to ear. Though an elderly man, Brutus has a spirit made for centuries of adventures. You’ve only experienced one of many, traveler, but of course, all his other tales will have to be told another day.

{Friendship to Last – Two Steps From Hell – Archangel}

That is the end of our tale for today. Thank you for joining me, but it’s now time for you to step back through the portal to WHUS Storrs. I hope you join me next week for another adventure. Until then, fairfarren, traveler.

THE END

Fairfarren, Friends

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