The Cast of Tamberlane
This page is a work-in-progress! Each month, a new character will be added to the site, chosen by my Patrons. Each character will be accompanied by a drabble -- a 100-word story that will tell you a little more about them. Enjoy!
Family: Molly (mom), Ginger (sibling)
Ainsley tries very hard not to let their imagination run away with them, but when you're a creature with anxiety and a deep love of monster stories, sometimes it's inevitable. They also try not to isolate themselves from society at large, but sometimes it's just so much easier to stay at home with a cup of tea, a good book, and your own company.
Ainsley's First Appearance: Page 1
They could feel it. The heartbeat skittering through their body. The lightheaded dizziness. The rising tide of sheer worry looming on the horizon. Ainsley looked at their empty bottle, thinking for the fifty-third time in the last ten hours that they should really get out of the house and ask Twitchel for a refill.
But outside was full of creatures. Creatures who were probably judging. Who said they liked them, but merely tolerated them. And sure, Twitchel's apothecary was only down the road a block or two, but do you know much can go wrong in just a block or two? And really, what's so bad about a heartbeat? It just means they're alive.
... They really should get out of the house and ask Twitchel for a refill.
Their heart suddenly exploded into frantic beats and it took them a moment to realize it was because there had been a knock on the door.
"Ainsley," came the gruff growl on the other side of the door.
"C...closed! We're closed!" the marten managed to say, after two tries when no sound had emerged.
"I brought you your meds. Twitchel said you'd run out again but didn't have time to run them by."
Oh no. He knew how much of a screw-up they were. Any normal creature could just walk a few blocks and go get the pills that helped them function. But could Ainsley? No, of course not. Ainsley was wrong. Ainsley was a mistake. Ainsley was--
"AINSLEY. Come take your damn pills before you give yourself a heart attack."
"...coming." The marten crawled shakily out of bed and opened the door to Oakewood standing there, glass bottle in hand. Underneath all the annoyance, they could see the compassion in his eyes. He'd never admit it, ever. But they could see it.
"Thanks, Claude," they whispered.
"Thank me by taking your pills. And tell me next time you're low."
They took a deep shuddering breath. Admitting weakness? Never. But... that would be better than living like this, wouldn't it? Maybe. Possibly.
"Okay." It was like moving a mountain. But Oakewood understood. He nodded.
Family: Tess (mom), Walter (dad), Briar (sister)
Belfry is a bat, with (she thinks) a bit of squirrel mixed in. She's clumsy, well-meaning, naive, sweet, and tries her hardest to do the very best she can!
Belfry's First Appearance: Page 3
"Shhhh. It's okay."
It was not okay. Where was Papa? Where was Mum? The batling writhed in discomfort, too warm under the strange covers and too hot to fling them free.
"Little Belfry, don't fret so much."
A new voice. He knew her name. Whimpering, Belfry opened her eyes, tears leaking from their corners. "Papa," she cried.
The two hazy silhouettes hesitated. "Your papa is gone, little one," one said. "You're sick. Please just rest, and we'll figure out what to do after."
Gone? What did they mean, gone? If her mum and papa were gone, they'd be back soon. Right?
She was enveloped in strange scents and warm fur. They were gone and she was wrung out, too tired and sick and exhausted to think anymore.
Briar Waliton Baker
Species: Badger / Deer
Occupation: Waitress / Student
Family: Tess (mom), Walter (dad), Belfry (sister)
Briar is your typical teenager, doing her best to just survive her adolescent years in order to grow up. She is very serious about contributing to society, but she also isn't always sure how to go about it, and her inexperience leads to mistakes which lead to a bout of temper. Still, under all her teenager-y moodiness, she's a kind heart with a good soul. She loves her family and her town and would do anything to keep them safe.
Briar's first appearance was on page 9.
"Belfry? I had a nightmare. Can I sleep with you tonight?"
The pudgy little badger-deer looked up at her older sister with a nervous expression, blunted claws hugging her bedgraggled stuffed dog to her chest.
Belfry grimaced in annoyance. "Briar, I sleep upside down. Like a real bat. You can't sleep with me."
"I can, too!" Already Briar waddled quickly for the ladder that led up to the padded branch Papa Walter had installed. "See? Watch! Belfry, watch!"
"No! Briar, stooop! This is my tree!" Belfry flailed her wings a little, trying to frighten her sister off, but only succeeded in whapping her across the face.
Briar fell back on her butt in the pile of cushions beneath her 'bed' and scrunched up her nose. And then she wibbled. And then she started to cry.
Belfry's ears flicked back. Okay, her baby sister was annoying, but... She sighed, letting herself fall to the cushions in a heap next to Briar. "Okay, okay. You can't sleep with me, but I'll sleep with you down here. How's that?"
Briar sniffled and crawled into her sister's wings, curled up against the world. "Will the monsters be able to get us here?" she asked quietly.
"No. No monsters here."
Family: Milo (godson)
He's not grumpy, you're just inconsiderate, loud, and far too energetic for an old yote like him. As much as he likes to bark, residents know he's not much for biting. Honestly, he seems to care far more about the residents of Treehollow than he would ever admit.
Oakewood's first appearance was on page 25.
Every day, the same routine.
Get up at precisely four-thirty-five in the morning. Use the necessary. Comb fur. Put on clothes. A precisely groomed appearance is the mark of a gentleman. I may not be a gentleman, but at least I can get close.
Water the plants. Make tea. Oatmeal is best served with a smidgeon of honey. Extravagant? Maybe. But at my age, you can afford to be a little extravagant.
Here, my routine diverges since the little pest came to Treehollow. Before, I would spend my day in my rocking chair in Cutter's Corner, reading books and greeting library patrons. Now, I'm swamped with research. Ever more research. What are you? Where did you come from? Why haven't you any fur except that matted mop on the top of your overlarge cranium?
I suppose only time -- and effort -- will tell.
Species: Grey fox
Occupation: Town doctor
Family: Henry (husband), Parker & Penny (children)
Nora may seem like a down-to-earth mother who knows how to do everything, but inside she's a young adult with a thirst for adventure that she put aside to raise a family. She's wry, silly, and often has a longing to go make trouble that's tempered by her motherly worries for her kids. She's a Nawanese second-generation immigrant, having been born in Shepherd's Tail, a small village in greater Silver Sage.
In her downtime, when she's not doctoring, mentoring, or mothering, she loves to paint and has a pretty decent talent for it. Once Terra graduates to a full-fledged doctor, she plans on taking more time off to hone her skills.
Nora first appeared on page 51.
At the end of the day, Nora could barely do more than fall into Henry's easy chair and try not to fall asleep just yet. It was exhausting, lately. Between her pregnancy and the awful epidemic hitting Treehollow, it felt like she could barely catch a moment of rest.
"Strawberry? Honey? Do you want a backrub?" And there he was, the big lug of her life. She loved Henry dearly, but lately he was so worried about their first pup that he was treating her like she was made of glass.
"Thank you, but no, darling," Nora sighed. "I just want to sink in here and not move for a while."
"Rough day?" Henry came and sat gently down on the footstool. Despite his size, he was the gentlest giant in the world.
"The roughest," Nora agreed. "We lost Ansel today. The fever just came on too fast." She rubbed her eyes, fighting back the exhaustion and tears. "I couldn't cool him down fast enough. And now one of the Gardners is down..."
"Oh, geez," Henry said softly, his ears drooping in sympathy. But then they perked again, a little. "How about I make up some stew and bring some to the Carvers and the Gardners?"
"Henry, that would be amazing. Give them my love, would you?" She yawned. "I'm just gonna...rest my eyes a bit..."
And just like that she was asleep, lost to the world.
Parsley Anseliton Server
Species: Red fox
Occupation: Server at the Wealthy Jackal, information broker
Family: Coriander (mom), Ansel (dad; deceased), Cilantro (brother), Caraway (sister)
Parsley is a goofy kid with a heart of gold who tries to help others help themselves. In his spare time, he works down at the Wealthy Jackal inn and tavern, serving tables and helping keep the place clean as he keeps an ear out for interesting new information.
Parsley first appeared on page 73.
"Come on, man, I'm desperate!" Holly stamped her hoof in annoyance, her paws planted firmly on her hips. "You just don't want to help me because I'm a girl!"
Parsley wrinkled his nose in confusion. "What? What sort of a reason is that? I don't want to help you because you're being a rude git."
"Well, I'm older than you so you HAVE to help me!" she shot back, slamming her fist on his table and forcing him to lunge forward to keep the top from flipping off its feet.
"Holly, I don't..." He sighed in annoyance, pinching the bridge of his muzzle. He flopped back into his seat, his arms crossed over his chest. "Fiiiine, let's see what you've brought, then."
Smiling in triumph, the sheep opened her fist to reveal a piece of quartz. "This whet your appetite, todd?"
"It's a rock," he said, picking at his nails. "It doesn't exactly wow me."
"UGH, come ON, Parse! It's pretty, isn't it? See how it catches the light? It almost looks magical!"
"...It's a rock," he repeated.
"Come on, I just want to know if Emir likes me! That's got to be worth a pretty rock."
Sighing, Parsley finally picked up the quartz and examined it. He turned it this way and that, and finally shrugged. "Alright, then, Holly. I accept your payment."
"And??" The sheep clasped her paws together, biting her lip.
"And he doesn't. Have a good day!"
With that, the fox hopped up and darted away before Holly could grab him.
Family: Avery (mother), Jason (father), Anthony (brother)
Piper is always in trouble, and for good reason: 'trouble' is her middle name! Creatures are her pawns and machinations are her hobby. Still, deep down she does care about other creatures and does her best to be good in her own way. Just, sometimes being good is so much harder than being bad!
Piper's first appearance was on Page 6.
"Whoa!" Piper carefully pushed the bushes aside, ears alert.
"Piper, don't go near it," Briar said nervously.
"Pleeeease don't!" wailed Anthony, clinging to the badger-deer.
"Shh shh, it's fine." Slowly, Piper approached the ghost-monster, paws out cautiously. "Heeeey little ghost..."
Though the creature's screaming died down to a manageable whimper, Piper could see the fury in its eyes. And it started to come toward them! And as its gaze shifted menacingly to Anthony, Piper growled and lunged forward, swatting at its paw. "No you don't! You don't go after my brother!"
The monster reeled back and screamed, baring its teeth. Piper snarled in challenge, valiantly charging. "BEGONE, FOUL BEAST!" she howled, and with one mighty push, the monster ... was vanquished!
Family: Sylvia (mom), Terra (mom), Janya (bio mom), Ranjan (bio dad)
Marie is the sunniest little personality you could ever meet. She's sweet and demure and kind, and always thinks the best of others (though it's a trial, sometimes). Her major weakness is sugar: she has a bit of a sweet tooth, and sugar makes her uncommonly hyper.
Marie's first appearance was on page 63.
"Marie? What's wrong then, luv?"
Parsley sat down beside the younger skunk, who quickly wiped at her cheeks and sniffled. "Oh-- Parsley. I was... I was coming to talk to you."
The fox wrapped an arm about her shoulders, pulling her into him in a one-armed hug. "Well, if there's anything I can do to help Treehollow's biggest little heart, by all means! What can I do for you?"
"I... I brought you this," Marie said, slipping a paw into her pocket to withdraw an old locket, so dented it couldn't possibly be opened. "My-- My mummy is sick and I don't know what to do." Tears spilled over her cheeks again as her voice hitched with emotion. Parsley looked stricken and confused.
"Miss Terra? Or Miss Sylvia?"
"Sylvia. Mummy Terra said not to worry, but I can tell she's worried, and Mummy Sylvia's been asleep with a fever for a few days, and... You've got to know something! Don't you? Please!" She pressed the locket into his paw, beseeching him desperately.
Parsley frowned in sympathy and curled his paw around hers and the locket. "Keep your necklace, Marie," he said gently. "But I think I can help."
Family: Belfry (mom)
The eponymous Tamberlane is a strange creature that the citizens of Treehollow found in the woods. She's not very good at communicating verbally, but she seems to know a bit of pidgin Trissol (Silver Sage Sign Language). How she wound up in the Rattleglen Forest is anyone's guess.
Tamberlane's first appearance was on page 20.
Cold. Bored. Alone.
What's that? In the short trees!
Kitty! Deer...? Hi good morning!
Hungry, food, feed me!
Hi, kitty. Touch kitty. ... Ow! Kitty?? Bad? I did bad?
Ow, no push! No push! What is ghost? Kitty ghost?
No touching! No touching, bye bye kitty! Bye bye!
Ow, scared, scary! No touching, no push, no--
Occupation: Doctor's apprentice
Family: Kaiya (mom), Gustav (dad), Sylvia (wife), Marie (daughter)
Terra is a somewhat recent addition to Treehollow, having moved here alone in her teenage years. She was taken in at first by the Bakers, but in short time she apprenticed herself to Doctor Nora and moved in with her and Henry. She loves kids, loves to help creatures, and loves to make sad people happy; and though she's still somewhat young in her apprenticeship, she's shown a lot of promise.
She's married to Sylvia and mother to Marie.
Terra's first appearance was on page 51.
Terra lifted her exhausted head, her ears twitching toward the source of tiny skunk paws in the hallway. "Yes, Marie, darling, I'm with Mummy Sylvia."
The little skunk ducked inside, her paws clasped oh-so-carefully in front of her, as though she were sheltering a butterfly between her palms. "Mummy," she sniffled, "I got something that would help Mummy Sylvia."
"Was it your sunny smile?" Terra asked, leaning down to help her onto the bed so she wouldn't have to relinquish her burden just yet. Sylvia groaned fitfully in her sleep, one ear twitching.
"No," giggled Marie, her smile fleeting. "Parsley had magic."
"Magic? Well, goodness! I'm sure that will be very helpful. May I see?"
Marie nodded solemnly, and slowly she tilted her top paw off, revealing her holy relic. Inside sat a sparkling piece of quartz. Though the light in the bedroom was low, it caught what was there, scattering soft motes around the little girl's paws.
"Parsley says if we believe really hard, and think of Mummy Sylvia with all our hearts, and then hold this rock really tightly..." She faltered, looking down at it. "...it's silly, isn't it?"
"No," Terra was quick to say, gently brushing Marie's forelock from her eye. "It's not silly at all. I believe in magic. Do you?"
Marie was quiet a moment, and then she nodded, a faint smile turning up her lips. Terra folded her paws around Marie's, so that they both cupped the stone together. "Let's think of Mummy Sylvia as hard as we can," she says, "and pour aaaaall our love into this magic stone. That way she can keep it close to her and always know we love her."
Marie took a deep breath, looked to her other ailing mother, and then nodded to Terra as serious as can be.