Having put out word of their mission to the tavernkeeper, Razorback rents a private room there and sets up shop, pulling out local maps of the desert and discussing a plan of action.

Whiptail looks over the maps, one paw against his chin as he studies them. He points to two different valleys. “This’d be a good place to start lookin’ to round ’em up.” he says. “Waterin’ holes are in these low areas and the bumbler’s crowd around ’em. Add the plants growin’ nearby and you have a bumbler paradise.”

A slender, dark-furred Demarian male slinks into the tavern. He’s clad in a blue satin vest and gray satin trousers that end at his knees. He wears a loop of silver atop his head, nestled between tufted ears. A coiled black leather whip dangles at his left side from a clasp on the hem of his trousers. On his right side is a sheath containing a long hunting knife with an ivory hilt.

He wanders up to the bartender and says, “I heard something about…a job.”

Fluffpaw hangs back from the majority of the back and forths, twitching her whiskers in an anxious habit. Stretching herself out as far as she can go to get a look at the maps while still keeping her distance, she shakes her head slowly. “You wouldn’t want that first valley,” she intones slowly. “It’s a good spot t’be sure, but there’s some rough footing going in and out of it, meaning that even if you found a herd, you  might do some damage to them when you’re driving them out and back to wherever you’re going.” She points to the second valley. “That one’s a little further out but it’s got nicer places where they could hide. It takes more to flush ’em out but worth it once you do.”

Outside the private room, the bartender points to the closed door of said room. “Through there, my Lord,” he says, bowing.

Razorback nods both of his comrades, considering their input carefully, as their knowledge of this part of the desert is greater than his. “Flushing them out will not be a problem,” the Cliffwalker replies with a nod, “But our time is short. We must leave early in the morning if we are to gather a herd and get it in on time.”

Whiptail nods to Fluffpaw. “Good point, missy. Pretty rough terrain through thar. Time’s wastin’, so this’n ought to be where we go.” he says, looking up to Razorback. “Suits me, feller. Not the first time I’ve been up at tha crack o’ dawn.”

The dark-furred stranger pushes his way through the doorway into the back room. “I do apologize for the intrusion, but word has reached my ears of a rather unique task that, needless to say, piqued my interest.” He rests a hand on the hilt of his dagger.

The Cliffwalker looks up for a moment, dipping his head politely while examining the stranger’s appearance and scent. “No apology necessary,” he replies, his ears canted forward attentively, “For we do indeed have a unique task before us, one which promises to be diverting if not particularly profitable. We seek able-bodied riders for a bumbler drive to a village in the Coldstar lands. Given the reception I had from Lady Coldstar’s overseer when last I was there, I should be surprised if our presence is entirely wanted.” He pauses a moment glancing at his new comrades before he continues, “I am called Razor. And you?”

“Whitepelt Landstrider,” the black-furred Demarian replies, tapping a finger against the bridge of his snout. “All funny looks are understandable. Either my parents suffered an egregious abundance of irony or I was shock white at birth and gradually turned black or it is a luxurious dye job born out of vanity. I lose track of which story I’ve stuck with over the years.”

As likely the smallest Demarian now in the room full of relative strangers, Fluffpaw backs up a few paces, her tail swaying slowly back and forth. She wedges herself closer to a corner where she can keep her gaze solidly on everyone else. “Do we have all the supplies we’ll be needing on the trail?” she pipes up. “It’s not the type of country you want to be unprepared in.”

“That’s one reason we’re here, ma’am.” Whiptail says, before looking to the arriving Landstrider, chuckling a bit. “I figger whatever yer story is, so long as you can swing a rope, you’re what we’re needin'”

Ears twitch atop Whitepelt’s dark head. “Sounds amusing.”

Razorback nods to the female Demarian quickly. “Arrangements have been made for mounts and supplies,” he says before turning towards the newcomer. “It may be. As mentioned, mounts and supplies will be provided. I can manage a nominal wage, but no more. We ride at first light. Are you willing?”

Fluffpaw’s head bobs up and down at the affirmation of being prepared to face the outdoors and she sinks down into silence, her ears flicking back and forth curiously in Whitepelt’s direction.

“Mounts?” Whitepelt makes a tsk-tsk sound. “I ride nothing conscious and living. But I have my own hover cycle.”

“As long as you understand that you are liable for any damage it sustains,” the Cliffwalker replies with a fangsome smile, “You are most welcome.”

Whitepelt considers the disclaimer. “Damage.” A grin splits his snout. “Now THAT sounds promising.”

“If things play out the way I’m thinkin’ they will, damage is gonna be the name of the game.” Whiptail says. “Preferrin’ it not be us, naturally.”

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By Brody

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