And so it was done.
And the Neep said: "Mwahaha. Perrrrfect."
Warning: Completely unbeta'd. Might not make sense out of context. Little does.
Claimer: Mwahaha! This time, I really can take credit. Though I'm not sure I want to. Actually, I don't. Blame the others. It's all their fault. Really.
"Well, what do you think?"
It would be hard to think of the man as other than a boy, although he had passed into adulthood a fair time ago. He was tall, certainly, and lean, with no trace of childhood plumpness. Even so, something about him made it impossible to think of him as grown. Maybe it was the way he stumbled about, as if he had not yet grown into his limbs. Maybe it was his uneven hair, which hung lankly about his head, occasionally flopping into his eyes. But most likely, it was his face. His eager expression belonged on the face of a seven year old at dawn on Christmas morning.
For a moment, the world was silent; except for the wind in the trees, the songs of the birds, the clip-clop of hooves on the road, the rumbling of the cart...well, maybe it wasn't so silent after all. In any case, the non-silence was soon broken by a muffled snort.
The young man's face fell. He was as expressive and passionate in his despondence as he had been in his earlier enthusiasm. "And I worked so hard on it too." He sighed mournfully, kicking at a stone in his path as he walked alongside the small cart.
Then, his normal cheerfulness restored in an instant, he turned back to the donkey. "But I'm sure I'm getting better. It's just really hard to rhyme marmalade! I mean, think about it. Cade, gade, tade, yade, none of them work at all! "
The donkey pulling the cart rolled its eyes, but didn't bother to snort again. The scary thing was, he really was getting better. And really, being that horrible at poetry must require extraordinary talent.
"Well, maybe you'll like this better, Ambrosia."
And so the two passed through the forest, the young man chattering and babbling and occasionally tormenting the innocent forest animals with sonnets.
Ambrosia was only glad he wasn't singing. A donkey can only take so much.
After an eternity of brain-melting inanity, the young man paused suddenly. He turned slowly in a circle, peering fearfully into the trees.
"D-did you hear that Ambrosia?"
An ear flicked back, searching for the sound that had frightened the man. Back and forth and around to the side and…there it was: a high-pitched chattering. Ambrosia's head dropped forward. If she had had hands, she might have pressed her palm into her forehead or massaged her temples. More likely, she would have hit him. Repeatedly. As it was, she was contemplating kicking him. Alas, the cart was in the way.
"W-was that a-a...oh God, Ambrosia, do you t-think this forest could have..." his voice dropped into a terrified whisper, "s-squirrels?"
Ambrosia sighed, shook her head, and grabbed the man's arm in her teeth. She thought briefly about biting down, hard, but decided it was more important to just get moving. She tugged, not quite gently, forcing the young man down the road. He continued to glance nervously at the trees but offered no resistance to Ambrosia's impatient tugging.
Mortimer's mother had always taught him to listen to donkeys. They were remarkably smart creatures she said, wise and full of wit, honor, and grace. Of course, Mortimer's mother had also told him that squirrels were evil demons intent on tormenting the innocent. Many believed that Mortimer's mother was absolutely bonkers. The few who knew her past usually looked away, muttering nonsensical things about wits and cruel pranks in school.
In any case, Mortimer had always firmly believed that a man should listen to his mother. Mortimer firmly believed anything he was told multiple times. Actually, Mortimer often firmly believed things he was told only once. Occasionally, he firmly believed in things no one ever told him, even in the face of loud opposition.
Mortimer, Ambrosia and the cart slowly faded into the gloom of the forest. Occasionally, words and phrases drifted back, carried by the wind. "Absolute evil...horribly awful claws...giant fangs...whirling red eyes...vicious rodents..."
A tiny paw rested on an oak branch. The small head lifted up, peering after the traveling pair, its nose twitching rapidly. The squirrel started to chuckle, eyes glinting madly. This was going to be fun.