57 One and a Dozen Foxes
⊱————- Ofris PoV ————-⊰
A heavy weight pressed me onto the ground. It wasn't hard as a log nor cold as a stone but rather soft instead. My arms and legs were protected by warm fur and an even warmer white and black dress laid on my chest. On top of it, slightly off to the right, there was a far too familiar, naked girl taking shallow breaths as she slept with my upper arm as her pillow.
It had been a few minutes since I woke up to this weird picture. Rika and about a dozen sheep-like foxes were burying me under them as if that was the sole way of keeping me warm and protected. Most of them were sleeping silently, not even giving me as much as a single glance, one of them, however, a slightly bigger white fox, stared at me as if I was some kind of threat.
«He looks like he wants to protect his daughter from the guy she brought home...»
Rika didn't even notice I had this little standoff with her pet. Looking at how exhausted she was, she probably wouldn't wake up anytime soon.
If it wasn't for her wearing nothing at all, I would probably leave her sleep for a little while longer, but her staying like this only asked for trouble - and a cold.
«I should wake her up now...»
"Rika?" I whispered.
She didn't react. I tried it again, a little louder, then once again. By now all of the foxes had woken up. They looked at me, some in disbelief, others confused and one even seemed angry instead. Then there was the white fox that stared right into my eyes. It looked especially fluffy, quite contrary to his tries to threaten me.
"... can you please move a bit?"
I could only stare at the animal in disbelief. It hadn't barked but just said that word. With an old man's voice! When he did it again, the whole woolly mass of sheep-foxes began to move. They seemed confused at their leader's command at first, but soon enough I was freed from their weight.
As if that wasn't enough, the foxes now began to disappear one by one. Each of them dissolved into a thick fog as if they had been air themselves, with their leader playing the rear guard.
Only one of the foxes remained, the smallest of them all. Even though it had much shorter white hair, making it look like a normal, almost Rika lookalike fox, it didn't seem less soft compared to the others. It gently sleeping nearby whilst his comrades had long left certainly helped cement the image of it being a pet and living pillow rather than a wild animal.
«Didn't it hear its friends leaving?»
I couldn't give it more than those few thoughts, not with Rika still weighing down on me. She was by no means heavy, I could probably lift her up just like this, but she was shaking from the cold. The warm dress had only protected her from one side, and even though the foxes had helped her somewhat, her back had been left exposed to the chilly air for god-knows how long.
Almost as worse as the shaking was her body itself. She had lost weight, enough for it to send a shiver over my skin.
"Has she eaten at all?"
Rika had never eaten much, at least compared to what I believed to be a good meal, but out here in the nothing, there wasn't even that. She had probably starved herself. Pondering about her poor appetite wouldn't help a bit in this messed up situation, though. I had to get her out of the cold!
I carefully placed my arm around her shaking body, pushed myself up and laid her down onto the damp and cold patch of moss that grew right next to me.
"Sorry, bear with it for now."
There was something to wear for her right here, something that would warm her up like a hot cup of tea near a chimney, but I had no idea how to get her into the dress. No, it wasn't that I didn't know, it was just that I couldn't get used to the idea of dressing up an unconscious girl.
"Rika?" I asked her again, slightly shaking her. "Can you hear me?"
She didn't react at all. At first glance, it had looked as if she was sleeping, but by now I was already sure the story was a whole different one: she had exhausted her mana. Out here, in the wilderness, between goblins, bears and worse, she had exhausted her mana just to keep me warm, leaving her behind utterly exposed and vulnerable. She was as honest as stupid.
"Just to help me..."
⊱————- Extra ————-⊰
Sir Fluffels: It has been an honor to work with you, ladies and gentlemen.
Furry Fox: We didn't work, though...
Fluffy Fox: Sleeping is work, too! Soo sleepy~
Madame Plush: I hope she will be fine
Sir Fluffels: Don't worry, my dear. I trust that mortal man. He will certainly ensure her safety!
Madame Plush: I am not worried about monsters or robbers...
Sir Fluffels: May I ask what it is that troubles you?
Madame Plush: Leaving a naked, unconscious girl alone with a man...
Sir Fluffels: I SHALL END HIS LIFE!!