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“A Perilous Brew” by Arcane Reno

Three intrepid adventurers set out to harvest a rare ingredient from the depths of a deadly forest. Worth it? Absolutely! 

Today’s story is “A Perilous Brew” by Arcane Reno, a fluffy Canadian canine who writes a wide variety of spec fic short and long form stories, along with a hefty dose of erotica and fanfiction. He has had work published in several anthologies, including the upcoming Howloween II, and Furmiliar Spaces from Thurston Howl Publications. You can find more of his stories on Sofurry or Furaffinity

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If you have a story you think would be a good fit, you can check out the requirements, fill out the submission template and get in touch with Khaki on Twitter or Telegram!


Transcript
Khaki-Bot:

You’re listening to The Voice of Dog.

Khaki-Bot:

I’m Khaki, your faithful fireside companion, and Today’s story is “A

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Perilous Brew” by Arcane Reno, a fluffy Canadian canine who writes

Khaki-Bot:

a wide variety of spec fic short and long form stories, along with a

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hefty dose of erotica and fanfiction.

Khaki-Bot:

He has had work published in several anthologies, including the upcoming

Khaki-Bot:

Howloween II, and Furmiliar Spaces from Thurston Howl Publications.

Khaki-Bot:

You can find more of his stories on Sofurry or Furaffinity.

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“A Perilous Brew” by Arcane Reno

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Mishna parted the thin barrier of cherrywax bushes with her staff,

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careful not to let the sleeve of her robe catch on the boughs.

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No conspicuous red stains on her clothing, thank you!

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“There you are,” she whispered.

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In the clearing ahead, a huge violet flower bloomed, its thick petals

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forming a spongy, inviting carpet over the grass for any foolish enough to

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advance on its bright yellow center—a bloated pistil the size of a child,

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practically quivering with life and revelling in the dying rays of sunlight.

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Beautiful.

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Someone behind her sneezed.

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Mishna glared back at her companions.

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“Quiet!

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You’ll wake it up early!”

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“Sorry,” said Kellum, the muscular stag holding his nose and sniffling.

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“Something about that smell.”

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A sweet, alluring aroma drifted from her quarry, the giant flower’s scent

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tinged with a vague spice like cumin.

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It was ripe, alright, exactly what she needed.

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“Alright, so what’s the plan?

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Should I just… burn it?” Symon, her childhood friend turned adventuring

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companion asked in a hushed tone.

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He tugged on the sleeves of his shirt, picking at a leaf which had caught

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on the silver-thread-chased cuff.

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As usual, the cougar had overdressed for exploring in the forest, his fine

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Ezmiran clothes better suited to a night in the tavern wooing whomever

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he chose to woo on a given evening.

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“No, of course not, dung-brain!

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If you burn it, how will I get what I need?”

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He shrugged, winking with a cheeky grin, his tail twitching.

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“You never said you needed it fresh.

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Besides, don’t you just dry out all your ingredients?

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What’s the difference if they’re a little charred?”

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She resisted the urge to whack him with her staff, settling

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for shaking her horns at him.

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“I need you two to distract it while I harvest the anthers—”

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“The what?” Kellum this time, touching his own antlers and

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giving her a look of horror.

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“The little leafy nubs in the center.

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They’ll only be exposed when it opens up.”

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“Right.

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Which will only happen if we rile it up,” Symon said.

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“Exactly.

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It only opens to loose its seeds, or to eat.

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And you two are its favourite food.” She flashed them a winning smile.

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“Just don’t actually get eaten, alright?”

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“Aww, you saying you would miss us?” Kellum nudged Symon.

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“Look at that, our plant-loving goat is sentimental!”

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“Not at all, it just makes my job harder if you’re getting turned into plant soup.”

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“So heartfelt,” Symon said.

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“I’m almost convinced she means it.”

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Mishna scowled at them.

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“Just keep it busy, alright?

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It won’t take long.”

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“Can’t you just… I dunno, sing it a lullaby, or whatever

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it is you do?” Kellum said.

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“That’s not how it works.

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It’s not called a sapient skullsmasher for nothing.

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Now, ready?”

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Her companions shrugged, Kellum reaching over his shoulder to draw

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out his huge two-handed blade.

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The towering stag cut quite the sight like that, shirtless save for the

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sword-belt, with almost two yards of gleaming steel held at the ready.

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Symon closed his eyes and whispered under his breath, preparing

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his invisible bonded djinn.

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Mishna reached into her belt pouch and withdrew a generous pinch of dried herbs.

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“Let’s go.”

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Symon and Kellum stepped forward in unison, each finding a break

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in the bushes and pushing through into the clearing, an ululating

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battle cry ringing out from Kellum.

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The massive flower quivered, its brilliant pistil pulsing.

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One of Kellum’s hooves stepped on the tip of a violet petal, and chaos broke loose.

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Hidden vines sprung up from beneath the petals, slashing towards the two men.

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Fleshy petals shook, tremors designed to knock down unwary prey and

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turn it into an easy meal, and the tightly folded pistular petals began

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to unfurl, dark green anther-sacs trembling in anticipation within.

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Kellum’s sword flashed, severing one vine and deflecting another, but

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already more were grabbing at him, trying to coil around the stag’s

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limbs and bear him to the ground.

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Symon lit up like an oiled torch, ethereal blue flames crackling into

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existence all around him and rebuffing the vines, several catching alight

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and thrashing away as if in pain.

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Neither would make easy prey for the carnivorous flower.

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Still, she needed to be quick.

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Mishna lifted the herbal mix to her lips, kissed it, and inhaled.

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Musky aromas of midge-grass, sharp-scented ice-berry leaves,

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and a pinch of tangy spurnroot.

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Vibrant power flooded her, the herbs crumbling to ash in her palm.

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Here in the forest, among so much verdant greenery, she was at the height of

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her strength, but she’d prepared this particular mix specially for this task.

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Drawing on the burgeoning wellspring now blooming within her chest, she leaped

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forth to join her companions, clearing the chest-high bushes with an easy hop,

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a trail of leaves following in her wake drawn in from the surrounding foliage

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by her now humming hortimancy aura.

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The boys were doing their job well, if not without complaint.

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“A little help here!” Kellum cried, his left ankle kicking against a vine while

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he swept his sword against several others, a bright line of blood on his cheek from

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one of the plant’s thorny appendages.

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A gout of indigo flame caught the thick tentacle, singing

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it and forcing it to recoil.

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“Thanks.

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I owe you one.”

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“You can make it up to me tonight, hot stuff.” Symon kept as close as he

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could to his friend without endangering him with his blazing aura or getting

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in the way of Kellum’s sweeps.

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The cougar’s djinn of flameweaving kept him quite safe, for now, but she

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knew he couldn’t keep this up for long.

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“Cute.

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I’ll buy you a drink instead.”

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Leaves and plant-litter swirled around Mishna as she stepped

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onto the skullsmasher’s petals.

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It jerked, a pair of vines sweeping up, but they halted at the edge of

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her protection, the mingled pollens and pulse of power emanating from her

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addling it, rendering her as not a threat or a meal to its primitive senses.

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“Hurry it up, would you?”

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“Working on it!” Mishna dashed for the center, largely ignoring the vines,

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which made tentative swipes at her before jerking back, and instead redoubling

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their assault on her fellow adventurers.

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She unsheathed her belt knife as she reached the pistil, the flower’s syrupy

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aroma thick and cloying in her nose.

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Several plump anthers dangled in easy reach, and she swiftly sliced

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through their stems, catching the pods and stuffing them into her pouch.

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The flower shuddered, and she glanced down into the churning

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depths of its digestive center.

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Tiny filaments quaked, sensing food nearby, and virulent green liquid

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oozed down the interior sides.

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Not many had seen this and lived to tell about it.

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What a discovery!

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She could write a journal about this—

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“Mishna!”

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Snapping out of her reverie, she leaped away as the pistil snapped

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closed, nearly catching her arm.

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It had reacted to the injury, defending its vitals against a

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threat it couldn’t truly detect.

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A bellow of rage—Kellum had fallen, several vines sneaking in and yanking

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his hooves out from under him.

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Symon’s flames shot forth, but the cougar was shaking, the aura

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around him sputtering, and the thick vines were only singed.

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The stag flailed with his blade to no avail, unable to cut as

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the flower dragged him inward.

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Not a chance.

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Mishna drank deep on her humming wellspring, calling forth the might

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of the forest against this predator.

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Hortimancy sang out within her, her vision blurring as the weighty sense of

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all the teeming life around them surged.

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From below, grass grew at lightning speed, oversized stalks wrapping

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around the skullsmasher vines and strangling them, choking them off.

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The carnivorous flower yanked, trying to free itself and claim its prey, but

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her power blossomed forth in response, her dense mesh of grass tightening down.

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Swish!

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Kellum’s blade hummed, able to strike true now that he was no

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longer being dragged by the ankles.

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He struggled to his feet, and Mishna grabbed his arm as she ran by.

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“Got what I need.

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Time to go!”

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“Don’t have to tell me twice!”

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*** Three brimming mugs of ale plunked down

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flashing them all—and Symon in particular—a bright grin before

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dashing off to her next customers.

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“I think she likes you,” Kellum said as he picked up his mug.

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The stag’s cut had closed up thanks to Symon’s djinn of mending, leaving

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a light pink line on his cheek.

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The velvet fur would grow back soon enough, and that had been

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the worst of their injuries.

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“Of course she does.

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I’m irresistible, as you well know.” Symon winked at the stag.

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“Incorrigible more like.”

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“Gods below, that’s a big word for you!”

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“That’s not all that’s big below.”

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“Oh?

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Care to prove it?”

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“Not in your lifetime, kitten.”

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Symon feigned a pout, then picked up his own mug and toasted Mishna.

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“Alright, plant lady.

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Time to fill us in.

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What’s so special about these leaves of yours?”

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Mishna grinned, picking up her own mug and taking a deep pull.

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The cool ale hit just the right balance of bitter and oaken flavours.

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She took a moment to wipe the foam from her beard before replying.

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“Alright, so it’s not very well documented, but I read a journal

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from a Menthic reign scholar that claimed skullsmasher pods would

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brew the most delectable tea!

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Naturally harvesting them isn’t easy, so it’s beyond rare, and is supposed

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to have an invigorating quality to it that…” She paused, taking in the

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incredulous stares of her companions.

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“What?”

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“Tea?!” Symon sputtered.

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“We nearly became plant food so you could brew exotic tea?!”

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“Well, yes!

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And for the rare chance to see a skullsmasher up close—did you

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know their digestive process still hasn’t been fully documented?”

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Kellum had his head in his hands, the stag’s shoulders shaking

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with laughter, antlers quivering.

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“Tea,” Symon said again.

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The cougar sighed, looking down into his ale mug as if to find answers to

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an ancient question in its depths.

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“Not some incredible, all-powerful hortimancy ingredient.

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The goat wants to make bloody tea.”

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“If it helps, I plan to sell two of the pods.

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They should fetch a fair price!

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But the real value is the brew.

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I can’t wait to try it!” Didn’t they understand?

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This was important botanical research!

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“Mishna,” Kellum said, controlling his laughter, “You are the worst.”

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He raised his mug and drained it, then slammed his glass down.

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“And you are buying all the drinks tonight.”

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“Yes,” Symon agreed, “And none of them will be tea.”

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Mishna raised her mug in acknowledgment.

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Fair was fair, and they’d be jealous once she had her brew ready.

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They weren’t getting a single sip!

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This was “A Perilous Brew” by Arcane Reno, read for you by Khaki,

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your faithful fireside companion.

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You can find more stories on the web at thevoice.dog, or find the

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show wherever you get your podcasts.

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Thank you for listening to The Voice of Dog.

About the Podcast

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The Voice of Dog
Furry stories to warm the ol' cockles, read for you by Khaki, your faithful fireside companion. If you have a story that would suit the show, you can get in touch with @khakidoggy on Twitter and Telegram, and khakidoggy@me.com by e-mail.

About your host

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Khaki