Stories from the Inn at the Edge of the World — Enter the Lammasu
A monster emerged from the forest! It was known as a Lammasu, it had the torso of a woman and a bovine body. This particular Lammasu was named Bell. She had short blonde hair, her face was freckled, and she wore a pleasant smile. Her brown eyes sparkled with joyous light. She wore a green shirt and a brown vest, it did not hide her busty chest. Brown fur with white spots covered her bovine portion of her body. She had two large saddlebags strapped across her bovine back.
“Hail, Bell.” One of the guards at the entrance of the town waved to her. The other guard waved at their guest as well. They loved the peaceful Lammasu and knew that trade between the herd and the town was good.
“Good morning, to you,” Bell said in greeting as she passed through the gate into the town. She loved to visit the town. The townspeople were friendly, and they bought all of her herbs and plants from deep within the forest. None except for the sisters and a few hunters went very deep into the woods.
“Moo!” Came a deep voice to Bell’s left. She looked over to see the muscular blacksmith laughing at his joke. She stuck her tongue out at him, which made him laugh harder. He was a good spirit, and she knew he meant no harm. She had known Smit for many years, he had arrived at the town when she was a calf accompanying her mother on her visits.
Bell made her way to the Sister’s Herbal and Plant Shop. The sisters were Jel, the oldest, and Fawn, the youngest. They ran the shop their grandparents had started, and their parents had kept going until they disappeared foraging in the forest. The Lammasu still look for them to this day, but the sisters, the town, and the herd knew they were lost to the forest.
Bell knocked on the shop’s door, she wasn’t able to enter the shop since she was a small calf when her mother made the trip into town. She heard a squeal of delight as the younger sister saw who had come to visit them. Fawn was the first out the door while Jel was helping a customer.
“Bell, how are you?” Fawn asked, reaching up to give the Lammasu a hug. Fawn was less than a meter and a half where the taller Lammasu was easily two meters.
“I’m well. How are you?” Bell asked. She loved visiting the sisters. She felt they too were creatures of the forest and were her kinsmen. The two sisters spent as much time in the forest as they did the town.
“How is your mother?” Came the voice of Jel. She and a little older woman whom Jel was helping walked out together. The older woman smiled at Bell and nodded a greeting. Bell gave the older woman her brightest, warmest smiles. She like humans, but was leary of most.
“She’s good. Our wise woman passed last winter, and my mother has taken up her duties.” Bell said with some pride.
“I’m sorry to hear she passed.” Jel said, “Your mother will make a great wise woman.”
Bell felt a tug on her bags. She turned to see Fawn opening them. “What have you brought us?” Fawn said with excitement. She couldn’t wait to see the new plants and herbs.
“Fawn, ask before you open someone’s bags.” Jel scolded her younger sister.
“It’s fine. My bags are full of herbs and plants for your shop. I’m hoping to sell all of it and gather some supplies for our herd while I’m here.”
“You’ve got to see this, Jel, she’s got some great stuff,” Fawn said, shifting through the bags. Fawn was as good as Jel at identifying plants. Her getting excited meant that the shop would have some rare and valuable wares to sell.
“Take it all inside and get started cataloging everything.” Jel said, “I’ll be in in a moment.”
“Aw, but I want to hang out with Bell,” Fawn whined. She loved Bell and enjoyed playing with her when they were both younger.
“You can once you have those herbs and plants ready for me to price. I need to pay Bell for her goods. I’ll let you go shopping with her if she doesn’t mind.” Jel said, looking at Bell, who covered her smile and giggled. She loved the two sisters.
It took Fawn four trips to unload Bell’s bags. She eagerly went into the shop and began separating and categorizing the goods.
“What’s the news from the forest?” Jel asked as she and Bell watched Fawn work.
“For the most part, the same as always. Some tension between some of the creatures that live there, but that’s not new. The Adlet have become more aggressive and have ventured into our territory more.” Bell said.
“The last time Fawn and I were in the forest, we saw a pack of Adlets. It was unusual seeing them this close to town. Have they attacked anyone?” Jel asked with concern. A pack of Adlets could be dangerous for Bell, her herd, and for the sisters.
“No, they seem to be scouting almost like they are looking for something. They don’t seem to be hunting beyond what they would normally need. We have traded with a few, but they mostly have left us alone.” Bell looked around and whispered, “They kinda give me the creeps.” Jel laughed with her. A half-woman, half bovine being creeped out by a half-man, half-dog struck Jell as very funny.
“All done!” Fawn announced, racing out of the shop.
“Good, I’ll look things over and bring out your money,” Jel said, entering the shop.
“So, what’s first?” Fawn said with some excitement.
“I’ll need to talk to the blacksmith, the mayor, and pick up some books,” Bell said.
“Great! Let’s get going!” Fawn started to walk away but stopped seeing Bell not moving.
“Fawn, I need money first.” Bell laughed.
“And here it is,” Jel said, handing the bag of coins to Bell.
“Thank you, Jel.” She turned to Fawn, “Let’s go.”
The two friends headed off towards the edge of town and where the blacksmith was located. They laughed and talked as they walked. Few people gave them much thought except one man. He eyed the two with disgust. He began to follow them.
“I hope he’s back. Smit?” Bell called into the blacksmith’s forge. She was a bit too big to enter.
“Moo!” Came the reply. Smit exited the barn with Mayor Fee-la. Fee-la slapped Smit’s arm in annoyance. She knew he didn’t mean any malice, but it still annoyed her.
“Bell, good to see you. Don’t mind this rude buffoon.” Fee-la said, winking at Smit, who grinned down at her.
“Hello, Fee-la, hi, Smit,” Bell said as she waved at Smit. “I’m used to him. I’m glad you are here, Mayor Fee-la, I need to speak with both of you.”
“Oh?” Fee-la said, surprised that the Lammasu had business with her.
“Yes, my mother wondered if she could bring some calves into town during the next festival,” Bell asked.
“Of course, Lammasu is always welcome here,” Fee-la said, excited to have more visitors to the festival.
“Thank you, Fee-la,” Bell said, happy they were welcome in the town. She had been to the festival once before, and she knew the calves would love it.
“Tell your mother I said hi, and she’s welcome to bring them anytime.” Fee-la smiled, “I’d like to stay and chat, but I’ve got some new merchants in town that I need to meet. Be careful, going home, Bell. And Fawn, stay out of trouble.” Fawn blushed and hid behind her friend. Fawn had known the mayor for most of her life, but the woman still made her uneasy.
Smit laughed at the sight. “So, you need some tools, Bell?”
“Yes, and a few weapons,” Bell said as she got serious. She hated buying weapons.
“Weapons, that’s not like your herd. Everything ok?” Smit asked with concern. The herd mostly bought tools and an occasional knife.
“Yes, we just have a few creatures that have been getting farther into our territory. We just want to be careful.” Bell said, handing a list to the blacksmith.
“I understand.” Smit looked down at the list, “I should have everything here. I’ll be right back.”
The man that was following the two friends was hidden in a small alley next to the blacksmith. He frowned when he heard she was buying weapons. “I knew it.” He thought, “They are dangerous.”
Smith returned with the tools and weapons bundled together. Bell paid him, and he and Fawn helped Bell strap them to her saddlebags. They waved goodbye to the blacksmith and headed off to the bookstore. The man followed, but he didn’t leave unnoticed.
Bell handed the list and coins to Fawn, who had volunteered to go into the bookstore. The Lammasu waited outside, enjoying the warm mid-day sun. She was daydreaming of the fields in the middle of the great forest where her herd lived. The river was always crisp and refreshing.
“Tell me that you don’t sell milk here.” Came a sneer that brought her out of her daydream, “I’d be sick to know I drank milk from your kind.”
Bell looked down at a barely one-meter man glaring up at her. “Excuse me?” She said, confused at what the man asked.
“Which end does it even come out of. You are busty enough to produce a lot.” He gave Bell a nasty glare that made her very uncomfortable. The man crossed his arms and appeared to be inspecting her.
“What?” Bell squeaked with fear. She didn’t like this.
“Dumb beast doesn’t even understand simple language. They shouldn’t let you roam free in the town.” The man sneered some more. “I should throw a yolk on you and sell you to a farmer.”
“What?” Bell stepped back with fear from the man. The man reached out to grab Bell but was interrupted.
“Here’s your books, Bell,” Fawn said, exciting the bookstore. “Ben and Diane wanted to come out and say hi, but they are in the middle of something. So they said hi through me.” Fawn stopped when she saw the man. She didn’t like the look of him.
“You girl, you should be ashamed of yourself walking around with this thing.” The man pointed at Bell. Bell took another step back.
Fawn’s face went red with anger, but before she could plant her foot into the man’s jewels, he was lifted off the ground. Smit had followed the man without him knowing. It was something Smit was good at in a life before he came to the town.
The little man was now face to face with the tall, muscular angry blacksmith. “Put me down, you beast of a man.”
Smit growled low, his eyes dark with rage. Before he could do anything that the rude little man would regret, Smit snapped his head to the left, looking at someone.
“What’s going on?” Yelled a voice that was charging fast down the street toward them. Fee-la didn’t look happy. “Why are you doing to this man?”
“Mayor!” The man yelled, “Tell this beast to unhand me at once. I knew it was a mistake to come to this town. Monster men and monsters roaming about the town!”
“He was threatening Bell,” Smit growled, seething with anger.
“That thing shouldn’t be here!” The man pointed at Bell. He was still hanging in the air held aloft by the blacksmith.
“Drop him.” Ordered Fee-la. Smit did, and the man hit the pavement hard. “Smit, escort Fawn and Bell back to the herb shop.” She turned to Bell, “I apologize for this, I’ll see you at the herb shop after dealing with this man.”
The man looked shocked. Smit, Fawn, and Bell left the two to have a loud and angry discussion that was heard several streets away.
“I’m sorry that happened, Bell,” Smith said. He didn’t like it when humans mistreated the citizens of the forest.
“It’s not your fault. Some don’t like my kind.” Bell said with sadness in her voice.
“I love your kind, Bell,” Fawn said, disappointed she didn’t get to deal with the man. His high squeaky annoying voice would have been higher if she had gotten her way.
“Thank you both,” Bell said as they stopped in front of the shop.
Jel came out to join her friends. She was shocked to hear about the man. As they were discussing what had happened, Mayor Fee-la joined them.
“Bell…” She began softly.
“It’s ok, Mayor Fee-la.” Bell said, “I understand that some don’t like us. It’s why I asked about the calves coming to the festival. I wanted you to be aware in case you knew of any issues.”
“I’ll be sure they are safe when they are here,” Fee-la said. “That man won’t be here. We came to an agreement, leave, or see the inside of the jail for harassment.” Fee-la’s face redded as she spoke, the others could see the anger in her brown eyes. For a moment, she appeared to radiate power.
Jel, Smit, and Fawn helped Bell secure all of her things. “Thank you all for your help.” Bell said, “I need to leave soon, so I need to back with my herd before sundown.” They knew it could be dangerous in the forest at night.
“Before you go,” Fee-la said, “I wondered if you had heard of a knight in golden armor roaming around in the forest.” Jel made a rude noise at the mention of the paladin. Fawn rolled her eyes, and Smit shook his head.
“Yes, we saw him a few days ago. He didn’t look well.” Bell said. “We approached him to see if he needed help, but he screamed at us and waved his sword around. We decided he was just another crazy adventurer out in the forest.”
“That’s him.” Fee-la said, “At least he’s still alive. If you see him again, you may want to stay away. He’s not very bright, but he may be dangerous.”
“I’ll let everyone know. Thank you all.” Bell said as she made her way back to the gates.
The guards waved to her as she passed through and wished her a safe journey back home. She waved at them and smiled. She did love this town.