Sunlight squinted through the leafy trees, reaching out towards the cool, hard-packed soil that made up the river banks. The water was quiet along this part, but a few yards along there was a small waterfall, sloshing around a tree branch which had lodged right in the middle. There was no breeze in this part of the forest, but the rich, musty smell of mud carried high, past the still treetops.
Along the mossy riverbank ambled a curious creature. Warm grey fur lies flat against his sleek hide, darkening at the tips of his pointed ears. He has a familiar ambling gait, pacing forward several pawlengths before pausing and sniffing the mulchy soil. Bright yellow eyes glance rapidly ahead and behind, as though looking for predators. But this creature is not primarily a prey animal - his eyes are in the front of his face; a hunter. He shakes his short, fluffy tail and sits up, turning his head suddenly across the river and fixing his catlike eyes on something.
"I see you." He says distractedly as he turns back to his browsing. "It's very irritating when you stalk me like this, Gabriel. You'd think an apprentice like you would have better things to do with his time."
"But it amuses me." Protested Gabriel, standing up and trying to dust the leaves and other debris out of his overgrown hair.
"So I see." Replied the other creature, not looking up from his position.
"I don't think Limnor really wants me as an apprentice, anyway. He always assigns me books, never anything very challenging."
"So you fail his tests?" The creature assumed.
"Reading is for sissies. Of course I'm not going to look through my assignments if everything he assigns is boring and pointless. When he starts taking this apprenticeship seriously, so will I."
Gabriel jumped across the water, landing almost nimbly on a boulder in the middle; he gave up and waded the rest of the way.
"Don't you think so?" Gabriel added, and the odd creature finally turned to look up at the boy. The face of his companion was almost five feet away.
"No." He said simply, wrinkling his nose. "Actually, I enjoy reading. Given the proper circumstances, of course. And a good book."
"Yes, well I really don't find the time for it." Said Gabriel morosely.
The other creature decidedly made no comment.
"Gabey! Gabey!" They heard a distant shrieking.
"Agh." Sighed Gabriel. "It's Annie. She always wants to play
'house' with me."
"That's what sisters are for." Commented the Creature.
"I guess so." Gabriel scratched at a clump of mud on his neck and turned towards the sound of his sister's voice.
Such a sudden transformation, mused the Creature. From indolent student to caring brother. I wish I was sentimental enough to care…The Creature smiled at his own wry humor and, unseen, plodded after the boy.