Here we watch Borussa the pig go after the rats that shot up the farm cats with quill arrows….
Borussa reclined in the shade of a willow, watching Diana, Troy and Tana carrying the four cats. They had bolted off in a hurry without explanation, and it puzzled him that the cats were not walking back on their own.
Borussa was an unusual pig, with a degree of sentience far beyond the average swine. He traveled far over the years, and fought in battles alongside his father Artur. He helped raise Tana as if she were his own child. In seeing this unusual scene, he got to his feet and trotted after the three humans as they returned to the house.
The three humans stopped at a table outside the house and began extracting small arrows from the flesh of the cats, who howled and screamed despite Tana and Troy’s best efforts to calm them. It took a bit of time, but eventually they got the arrows out and left the cats to lick their own wounds. Borussa listened to the humans talking, and understood Tana and Troy the best: little rats with swords and bows. Little rats that fight like humans. Little rats hunting.
The hunting was of no interest to him. All meat eaters hunted. He himself killed a rabbits for supper if the opportunity presented itself. But he never heard of small rats with human weapons. It seemed…off. So Borussa made as though to head for the pig pond, and then when out of sight turned and headed for the woodlot.
The sun was setting now, and the air was thick with evening bugs, and dew began to form on the the grasses that had been in the shade for a few hours. The hawk weed and dandelions began to close their flowers. The pleasant odor of bark and damp wood wafted down from the woodlot onto the edge of the pasture. Birds sang their good-nights and traded tales of the day.
There’s a big pig in the wood
up to no good
no mushroom is safe
from the pig’s ravenous face
Borussa entered the woodlot, and put his porcine senses to good use. Nose to the ground, he scanned back and forth and he explored the forest: ants, beetles, moss, deer poop, fern, mushrooms. Oh! Mushrooms! Well there was just a few, so he ate them, but didn’t forget his mission. Nose down, he got scent of cat blood, and he expanded his search, and found plentiful rat poop and urine. Rats, are easy to track by their excrement, as they drop it everywhere they go. The fact that the rats marched in columns made their trail easy to follow.
Borussa snuffled and followed, occasionally perking up to observe his surroundings. Most creatures knew to steer clear of a huge boar, and so there was naught but the occasional tweet or chitter of the birds as they settled down for the evening.
Borussa came upon a porcupine digging grubs from a rotten log. Porcupines are one of the few that do not fear pigs, and paid him little mind. Borussa decided to chat up the porcupine.
“Hail Prickly Pig!” he said.
The porcupine turned, and Borussa could a great bald patch on the creature’s hind flank. She replied, “What do you want, oh boar? Can’t you see I’m busy?”
Borussa ignored the second question. “I’m tracking some rats, perhaps you’ve seen them.”
The porcupine shuddered, and she replied, “Oh do not talk about them. They gave me such a horrible time,” and continued eating her grubs.
“I’d rather not talk about it. It’s useless to dwell on the past.” And it was true, since animals tend not to ponder old hurts, but learn from them and move on, and continue living in the present. Miss Porcupine was enjoying her meal, and enjoying the fact that most creatures preferred not to fight with her.
Borussa went to the other end of the log and began digging at it with his tusks. A fat grub plopped to the leafy floor, and he slurped it up. “They shot up some farm cats with quills. Those cats are my friends. Did you give them yours?”
This disrupted the porcupine’s peace of mind, and she dropped a grub, which began to wiggle and try to escape. “No! No! I…oh it was horrible. They came on me, and there was a sorcerer among them. He chanted some words and suddenly I couldn’t move! I could hardly breathe. And then the rats yanked out my quills, and left me for dead. ‘Thank you! We’ll be back!’ they said.”
“Thank you Prickly Pig. I leave you in peace.”
Borussa nodded, and continued snuffling after the rat trail. There was too much for him to fully comprehend. There was evil afoot, he was sure of that much. He pushed on through ferns, low bushes, tufts of grass, until he came to a rocky patch covered with thicket creeper and poison ivy. Lucky for Borussa, he had no allergy, but made a note to bathe when he got home. He began to push through, when suddenly there was a high pitched screech ahead, and something pin pricked his left shoulder. Perking up, he could see a rat on a bit of rock pulling back his bow. He wasted no time, and lunged forward, skewering the rat with his tusk.
There was another screech to his right, and he heard little feet darting away. Borussa pursued, and under a great boulder was a large hole big enough for maybe a raccoon. There were three rats here, and they too were firing arrows at him. He shrugged off the hits, and bore down on them. Two retreated down their hole, but he killed the third. Quickly now, he began shoving dirt out of the hole with his tusks, and then with his trotter, and did his damnedest to get at the second and third rat, who by now had retreated down the tunnel.
Borussa figured he found their lair, or a lair at least. He lacked the means to get down and investigate. He could fill in the hole, but they, like squirrels and chipmunks, probably had multiple entrances. The hole reeked of rat urine and feces. Perhaps it would cover up his own scent. He rolled himself around the hole in it as best he could, and then retreated back into the ferns and shrubs a way. He found himself a comfortable spot in the leaves, and crouched down and waited.
It was at least an hour before any rats came out of the hole. They spoke to one another alternately in rat squeeks and elvish. Borussa was not fluent in elvish, so he could not discern the whole conversation. He heard something about “Huge boar in the woods! Fix the entrance. Ack Snitch and Pip are dead!” Then came another voice, less rat like, and more human like, and it spoke only in elvish “Imbecilles! Hold your bowels and swine won’t find you. Now go see if it’s gone.”
“I ain’t a-going after that beast!”
There was a flash through the bushes, and the smell of ozone and burning fur, and a simultaneous squeak of pain, but Borussa didn’t know what happened. “Perhaps I should kill you all, and your dead bodies will serve me better!”
“No master! I go!”
Borussa heard tiny feet scuttle off. A few minutes later, the rat came his way, walking on its hind legs, clinking in armor and sniffing about. It was tempting to just grab the wretched thing, but Borussa stayed still, and the rat passed by and continued until it was out of earshot.
Borussa waited a few minutes more, and then slowly crept back the way he came, retracing the patch of the rat droppings until he reached the rotten log. The porcupine was gone. Here Boroussa snuffled for grubs, and after eating a bit, he made his way back to the pasture land and then to the barn. Tana was there pouring buckets of water in the pig trough.
“Where’d you go, Borussa? You almost missed supper!”
“I was walking about.”
The little bald girl put down her bucket and skipped over him. She almost hugged him, but he pulled back abruptly. “I need a bath. I got into some poison ivy.” It was hard to disguise his being disturbed at the events of the evening. The little girl sensed something was wrong, but figured it was just the poison ivy.
“I’ll race you to the pond!” she shouted gleefully, and began to tear off away from the barn toward the pond. Borussa followed, and let her win the race. He splashed into the cool water and rolled about in the shallows, letting the mud cleanse his skin. He then waded into the deeper parts. Tana took off her dress and jumped in and swam to her friend. Together they played in the pond in the light of the two moons. Human and beast alike let go of the day’s stresses and lived in the moment.