For a free bit of writing advice: as played-out or on-the-nose as some story ideas are, sometimes, the obvious answer is the right one. Especially for something like this that’s largely meant just to be practice. And especially for a writing exercise or practice, don’t overthink it, just write it.
As the group sets out, Petra looks around. She notices something is missing “Wait,” she says. “Where is Lucia?”
“She was right behind us,” Roland notes.
“Where could she be?” Apolline asks.
In answer, the others hear a startled yell from Lucia from around the street corner.
Lucia comes around the corner in a blur. “Apolline! Help!” the lynx-woman cries as she runs past the others. Hot on her heels is a large, shaggy dog barking at her as it pursues.
“Get it away! Get it away! Get it away!”
As the dog chases her, Lucia scrambles up a tree and desperately clings to one of the branches. She cautiously peers down at the dog as it stands under the tree and barks up at her.
“Stay away,” she says, flailing with her feet to keep the animal at bay. “Don’t just stand there! Help!”
“Jump,” Roland offers. “I’ll catch you!”
The dog moves closer to the tree and barks up at Lucia again.
“Don’t you dare,” Lucia says from her tree branch. She extends her claws and hisses at the beast.
Alda interposes herself between the startled Wilderling and the dog.
“No!” she says firmly. “Bad dog! You leave Lucia alone!”
The dog turns towards the girl and quizzically tilts its head.
“You can’t just go around chasing people like that,” Alda notes. “How would you feel if you were just walking down the street and someone started chasing you?”
The dog whines softly.
“That’s better,” Alda says. “Now, apologise to Lucia.”
The dog turns toward Lucia and raises one of its paws.
“What’s it doing now?” Lucia asks cautiously.
“He wants to shake,” Alda says happily.
“Ugh,” the lynx-woman groans. “Do I have to?”
“But just look what a good boy he is!” Alda insists. “He just wants to be friends.”
“It tried to eat me!” Lucia protests. “Look at that thing! It’s a vicious killer!” She points with a trembling finger. The others follow her finger, to where the dog is currently preoccupied chasing its own tail.
“It’s up to something, I just know it!” Lucia says.
Alda looks expectantly up at Lucia with eyes that seem more like they belong on the dog.
“Fine,” Lucia mutters. She extends her hand and takes the dog’s paw, tentatively shaking it.
“Yay!” Alda says. “Now we’re all friends!”
The dog barks happily, causing Lucia to yelp and hide behind Petra. “Petra! Save me!”
Petra’s gaze moves between Lucia and the dog. “I do not believe that will be necessary, Lucia,” she says. “I do not believe he will a threat any longer.”
“Easy for you to say,” Lucia mutters. “You’re not a cat.”
“That was quite impressive, Alda,” Apolline says. “Where did you learn to do that?”
Alda shrugs. “I just like animals, I guess.”
“She’s always been great with animals,” Roland says.
Alda turns back to the dog. “Are you lost? Do you need help getting back home?”
Roland turns towards Lucia, who is still hiding behind Petra and cautiously eyeing the dog.
“So, uh,” he says thoughtfully, “I guess you’re not really a dog person. Then again, you are a cat-person.”
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