A month passed, and it was the beginning of summer. "Not long now," Figgy said. "Couple more days and we'll be there, on the edge of their pridelands." Which was good, because he was tired of travelling, and travelling was tired of him. His feet were painfully sore, his stomach sensitive where it scraped against stones and branches on the savanna floor. As he'd feared, having someone to help him hunt had meant Figgy had needed to get around less, and it showed. There wasn't any which way he could turn his head without seeing his own cheeks, and it had been a long, long time since he had been able to do something so flexible as look over his shoulder due to the rolls of fat on his neck (under his mane, of course). His stately walking pace had slowed to a labored waddle, something he could only do with gritted teeth and much panting and gasping. And his stomach was huge. So huge, in fact, that he could only keep it off the floor with a lot of pain and concentration. "I need your help with something," he said to Vrasku one day, and held the chubby coyote a rope. It was thick, and split in two at the end, forming something of a sling. "I need you to tie this around my waist. My... erm... stomach's getting a bit sensitive. About time I gave it some protection." He grinned apologetically. It was only half a lie. In truth he needed something that would help him keep it off the ground. "Do you mind?"
The jackal looks up from the bone he is gnawing on. "Sure thing Fig, one sec." Vrasku struggles to stand, stretching out his limbs as he does.
The obese lion may worry about his diet but he wasnt alone in sharing his blubbery fate. Despite his own misgivings about gaining weight Vrasku was quick to settle into the roll.
The beasts neck was thick with flesh, his limbs expanded. His rounded, bloated stomach easily hung down to his knees, swaying beneath him with ever step he took towards the lion. "You know Figgy, I was thinking." the jackal comments as he moves to help the lion however directed. "I was thinking, if we are ever going to reach this pride o lions up north, we are never going to get there if your belly out grows your legs." Vrasku grunts with effort as he handles the rope with his mouth, "So I was thinking maybe you should eat less. I can help you keep up the slack!"
Vrasku looked more than thrilled to eat the lions share of food.
Eat less? Figgy felt his flesh goosebump. He may as well have said, Cut your throat. "Maybe," Figgy said noncommittally. "Tighter, please..." Then, to help inspire the not-so-little coyote, he added, "Maybe if you make it tight enough I won't have as much of an appetite."
"If I tie this any tighter your gut is going to come out of your nose!" the jackal does as told, finishing the tie off on the small of the lions back. "I. Afraid its the only way a Fig, less you are ok with meeting a princess while whereing a bib."
Figgy snorted. "Alright, I'll eat less," he said, not meaning a word. Then he took a few steps forward, carefully. The rope bit into his doughy flesh so firmly it almost disappeared, but it pinched his gut in the right way. Now it didn't drag on the ground quite so heavily. He did feel a little short of breath, however. "I suppose we should get going to the next good place for a trap," he said, bending down and picking up the ropes with his mouth. "You rght to leeve?"
Standing on top of the lions back to help with the rop Vrasku turns and lays down ontop of the lion, ising him as a giant pillow with his legs crossed and arms folded behind his head. "Oh you betcha. You know, I could travel like this all the time...why dont we Figgy?"
Figgy grimaced. The flesh on his back was just as roly-poly as everywhere else. A slight shift to his posture sent the jackal tumbling onto the savanna floor. "Becuz of that?" He grinned. "Maybe if you're very goot I'll make you a shaddle one day."
The jackal yelps as he hits the floor, rolling to his feet and shaking himself off. "Fine I'll go check the traps ahead. Lazy lion." vrasku grumbles to himself as he trots away, wagging his tail behind him.
"Vagabond," Figgy called out, then concentrated on walking. WHAT DO YOU THINK OTHER LIONS WILL THINK, FIGGY? The voice said. Figgy didn't reply straight away. Then he said, "They'll think, 'my, what a well-fed individual. He must be a really good hunter." DO YOU REALISE YOU HAVEN'T GROOMED ANYTHING BUT YOUR PAWS FOR OVER SIX MONTHS? YOU SMELL, FIGGY. Figgy grimaced. He had been feeling itchy lately. "Well. We'll see what we can do about that," he said, and turned ever so slightly north.
The vagabond Jackal moves swiftly through the woodland. His progress is slowed by the occasional narrow root system he has to navigate through. "Giant land whale...wont even let me rest my paws after all I've done for him...show him I will."
The jackals woes are lost as the scent of a fresh kill works its way through his nose. Eager to fill his greedy gullet the jackal takes off, tail wagging behind him until he finds himsel in a clearing. The corpse of a gazel hangs from one of Figgy's snares, chewed to peices and half eaten.
"Oh. Great. There goes supper." Vrasku growls.
"And here comes desert."
The jackal lets out a small scream as powerfull jaws wrap themselves around his neck. He doesnt even have time to beg for mercy before he is hoisted off of his feet and thrown against a tree.
Stunned, Vrasku gets to his feet, "Who in the blazes dares to...oh...h-hi Visiki." the jackals ears go flat.
Hyena were never known to be gracefull looking creatures, or pretty. Visiki looked even worse if possible. A muscular creature with a tall hump and narrow waist Visiki was a nightmare of scars and healed injurries, most notable was the trio of claw marks running across the hyenas right eye. They at least explained why the eye was dead.
The hyena on his left and right looked no less threatening as they closed in around the jackal.
"Visiki! HeeeeEEEeey. Long time no s-see budy." Vrasku leans against the tree, tapping his claws together. "Did you get my message? I sent bushtail to let you know that-"
The larger, burlier hyena to Vrasku's left coughs once, spitting the skull of a swift fox onto the ground. Ear twitching the jackal replies, "I see you got my message then..."
Vrasku yelps as Visiki pushes him against the tres, "And I don't see that you have a lion with you, or perhapz you already ate it." the hyenas laugh as Visiki's free claw reaches for the jackals belly. Vrasku whimpers, su king in his gut to avoid the claws az they gently run up and down the length of his stomach.
"He...he isnt far from here...if you wanted t-t-to catch him..."
"We would fail because of the thick underbrush. And I don't wanna catch the lion. I want him skinned. His hide will prove to my pack that I am ready to rejoin their ranks." The claw works its way up to Vrasku's neck, gently brushing against his flesh, "If you have a lion like you claim, then bring him to the open grass easy of here. Tonight."
"Unlesz of course you feel I should collect my debt some other way? Maybe, by taking a bit out of your flank?" Visiki cackles, "Remember our Debt jackal, do this for me and we are squarded." Visiki pushes avainst Vrasku, forcing him to keep his eyes closed.
"Cross me again and this time...this time I will feed you're own paws." vrasku remains standing long after the pressure against his neck lifts. He peers around, looking for the hyena. But there was no sign of them.
Slowly Vrasku slumps against the tree until he is one his rump.