Tales of the Foxtaur Clans #6: Unexpected Attractions
The Story of Pandora & Karl, part one
By Bernard Doove © 2005

Hanging over the rapids Pandora wondered for the hundredth time what had possessed her to try to cross the old rope bridge. It had obviously been decaying, unused for years, and it was difficult enough for a foxtaur to cross even in the best of conditions. Yet here she was, broken ropes tangling a foreleg, her hind legs slipped between the rungs, her weight basically on just one dangerously creaking rope, while her balance was barely maintained by hanging on to another overhead rope with her hands. Try as she might, she could not get her paws into a position to regain footing to continue across what remained of the bridge without overbalancing and toppling into the rapids that were swirling noisily below her. If she fell in and she wasn’t killed smashing into rocks, she would almost certainly drown for being unable to get out of the river due to the steep sides of the chasm it flowed through. However, her arms were trembling now from the effort of maintaining her tenuous hold, and it would not be long now before she would be unable to hold on any more.

"Help! Help!" she yelled at the top of her voice once again. As all the previous times, the only thing that she heard above the noise of the rapids was a faint echo from the walls of the gorge. She felt her tired fingers slipping on the rope, and no longer had the energy to regain their grip for the thousandth time.

This is it,’ she thought to herself. ‘It looks like my destiny was to come out here to die. That sure solves my problem, even if I don’t like the method.’ Just as she had almost decided to consign herself to the whims of the river though, a voice came from the trees on the bank in front of her.

"Hang on! I’m coming!"

Because of the sag of the rope and the position of the owner of that voice, Pandora could not see who was calling, but he sounded male. After what seemed an eternity of waiting, she caught a glimpse of clothing, then a rope sailed through the air to land in front of her, lying there for a moment before it began to slide through the bridge’s ropes.

"Grab the line and I’ll haul you in!" came the voice again.

This time she thought she glimpsed a head but had missed seeing more as her eyes had followed the line. "I can’t!" she wailed. "My arms are barely holding on now. I’ll never be able to hang onto it!"

The rope halted its slide as it was rapidly pulled back. After a brief moment, it sailed out again, this time landing roughly on her shoulders.

"I’ve put a loop into it," her rescuer shouted. "Pull it under your armpits and then leave the rest to me. Come on! You can manage that much!"

Stung into action, she struggled to get the rope under one arm, taking all the strain with the remaining arm. She barely got the first hand back before the other slipped, then dropped the weary arm for half a second before she raised it tremblingly to slip it through the loop. She immediately felt the rope pulled taut.

"Let go now! Try to grab the line if you can!"

With a sigh of relief she let go of the overhead rope. If she had not been so exhausted, she was not sure if she could have relinquished it so readily, but she no longer had the energy to do otherwise. She couldn’t even grab the line, but thankfully it settled properly behind her back and under her armpits, and she swung from it as she rolled off the ropes under her. For a brief moment, she flew through the air above the water before crashing into the side of the gorge. Fortunately her legs were able to brace for impact, although the slightly less than perfectly straight swing meant that she might have some sore ankles later. Right now though she was wondering if her rescuer could manage to haul her up. Although hers was a smaller breed of foxtaur than average, she knew she still weighed a lot more than could be easily lifted. She didn’t seem to be getting any lower though, but her tail was half in the river. The extra weight of the water couldn’t be helping any, so she strove to hold it out of the river to let it drain off. She felt herself being lifted, then there was a pause and another lift. In this manner, she was brought up to the lip of the gorge. Her arms finally regained enough strength to help out, and she grabbed the line and started scrabbling with her legs to gain even a small amount of purchase on the steep sides. Abruptly she was over the side and sprawled safely on the bank, and for several seconds she panted and trembled in relief and tiredness.

Eventually she raised her eyes to look at her rescuer. She was surprised to see that he was a human. He was about 5' 8" tall, fair-skinned, with brown hair, wearing jeans, a sweatshirt and runners. The only things at all out of average were the strikingly blue eyes that regarded her with concern.

"Are you okay, miss?" he asked.

She nodded. "My name is Pandora, and I think you just saved my life. Whom have I got to thank?" she asked as she pushed herself into a sitting position.

The man smiled. "My name is Karl, and I’m happy to have gotten here in time to rescue such a pretty vixen."

Now that she was upright, Karl was able to get a good look at the person he’d rescued. She was foxtaur vixen with strongly orange fur. Like many foxtaurs, she had white fur running down from her throat, between her breasts and over the stomach, then between her forelegs and covering her lower belly. She also had a white tip on the longest and fluffiest tail that he’d ever seen on a fox, taur or otherwise. There the resemblance to a red fox ended because not only was her entire face covered in white fur, but the ‘gloves’ and ‘boots’ were white furred instead of black or brown. In fact the only black fur was on her ears, setting off the most strikingly red hair that he’d ever seen. There was one other feature that drew his eyes though, and that was her heaving bust. As was common with foxtaur vixens, she wore no top, and the breasts that rose and fell as she panted were plainly visible, and obviously very ample, at least an E-cup or more if he was any judge. Tearing his gaze from the hypnotic sight, he met her green eyes and realised that she knew that he had been staring. Still he wasn’t sure why she looked away ashamedly. He hastened to get her mind off it anyway.

"So, tell me what happened while we both rest a bit." He carefully took the rescue line from around her and untied it from the tree that he had belayed it to.

Pandora noted the branch that he had apparently wrapped the rope around to ensure she didn’t slip back as he had pulled her up in short bursts. "You seem well prepared, Karl."

"I had intended to be self-sufficient for a while," he replied as he attached the rope to his backpack. "A rope is a very basic piece of equipment." He sat down, propping himself against a tree trunk and waited for her to say something.

Pandora said, "I was stupid."

"After seeing the condition of that old bridge, that would seem pretty obvious. Why on Earth did you try? Were you in that much of a hurry?"

"That’s the really stupid part," she replied. "There’s a sturdy bridge a few kilometres upstream, and I’m in absolutely no hurry to be anywhere."

"That doesn’t answer the question – why did you try it?"

Pandora paused, contemplating whether to answer that, then decided to tell him more. "I was on what you might call a spirit quest. After consulting with my clan’s wise woman, I set out on a path that led me to this bridge. Something told me that I should cross this bridge even though it looked unsafe, and I stupidly did so. Then one of the rungs broke, followed by one of the hand ropes when my weight was thrown onto it. I barely managed to hang onto the other, and that was where I was stuck until you came along. I lost track of the time I spent hanging there calling for help that I thought would never come because this is such isolated country. Speaking of which, what are you doing in foxtaur territory?"

"Actually I hadn’t realised that I was in foxtaur territory. I’ve been hiking for a few days without much of a goal. Haven’t seen a soul since I set out until I came across you. Haven’t a clue why I actually came this way, in fact."

Pandora was startled by that revelation. Two people without a specific goal meeting like this was a bit too coincidental for someone who believed in spirit quests and destiny. She decided that this would have to be tested for a while longer. However one thing more immediately important came to mind. "I’m terribly thirsty. Have you got something to drink? The nearest water is a bit out of reach," she added wryly.

"No problem!" Karl declared as he pulled out a water bottle.

Pandora took it gratefully and squeezed a stream of the revitalising liquid into her muzzle. She drank half the contents before halting. "Thanks. I needed that badly."

"You’re welcome. Have as much as you want. I can easily refill it. There are some lovely clear streams flowing through here."

"Yes, the water is very sweet around here." Pandora took another mouthful, then handed the bottle back. "What do you intend to do now?" she asked curiously.

"Might as well stop for lunch, I suppose. Care to join me? I don’t have much, but there’s enough for two."

"If you’re this far from wherever you started, don’t you have enough to get back?" she asked curiously.

"I planned to gather some food as I went. The time of year should be good for that."

"But you haven’t done as well as you expected?"

Karl nodded begrudgingly.

Pandora said, "I thought so. There’s plenty to find if you know the territory and what to look for, but I don’t think you’re that familiar with either." She cocked her head, one hand stroking her chin. "And yet you don’t seem hugely concerned. Either you’re a fool or you have something else in mind."

"Perhaps," he admitted unhelpfully. "Do you want something to eat or not?"

"I am hungry, but I think I can help out. Give me a moment." She got onto all four legs and walked a little unsteadily to one side of the rope bridge, pushing past a bush. She reappeared a moment later with a small backpack.

"Where did that come from?" Karl asked curiously.

"Soon after I got stuck, I took it off with one hand while I hung on with the other, and I threw it up to the bank. It was pulling me further off balance, and I wanted to get rid of the extra weight. It was a very awkward throw and I almost missed. It was sitting on the lip just over there. It wouldn’t have been a great loss if it had fallen in, but I’m glad to have it back." She pulled out packages that turned out to contain some jerky and dried fruit, perfect rations for someone on the go. Then she pulled out a piece of clothing. It was a halter top and she proceeded to don it.

Karl tried to politely ignore that, but his eyes kept straying back to the sight of her breasts being settled comfortably into their confinement. Far from helping, it made him even more aware of the delightful attributes as the cloth hugged their curves tightly. His attention was dragged back as the vixen spoke again.

"I usually wear a top while in company. I just like the complete freedom when I’m alone. I’m sorry if the sight disturbed you."

This statement startled Karl. Why on Earth would looking at her breasts disturb him? He couldn’t help some voyeuristic tendencies as he had a fetish for ladies with luscious breasts, no matter what the species, but while he might be a bit embarrassed to be caught staring, it wouldn’t disturb him. He considered whether or not to ask more, then thought, ‘What the heck! I rescued her, and she’s not about to bite my head off. It’s not as if I was seeking her company anyway.’ "Why should I find the sight of your breasts disturbing?"

Pandora looked at him as if he was a bit daft, missing the blindingly obvious. Then she sighed. He’d asked a straightforward question and he deserved an answer. "I know that they’re grossly huge and ugly. You don’t have to pretend otherwise."

Karl was floored. For a moment he didn’t say anything and Pandora was convinced that he was silently agreeing with her, but politely not saying anything. Then he startled her by vehemently protesting.

"They most certainly are not!" he blurted out, then rapidly blushed with embarrassment.

Pandora looked at him curiously, noting the redness of his complexion, realising his reaction despite unfamiliarity with humans. "What do you mean by that?" she asked curiously.

Karl sighed. ‘Too late to shut up now!’ he told himself. Even so he hesitated before answering her. "I mean that you have some of the most sexy and desirable breasts that I have ever seen. They are not grossly huge. Yes, if they were any bigger they could be too big, but you have the perfect body shape to make those work beautifully." He finally managed to stop babbling, but felt he’d already irredeemably made a fool of himself in front of a perfect stranger.

Pandora was astonished though, not at all expecting that reaction. She could scarcely believe his words even now. "You…. You like them? You think they’re… pretty?" she asked incredulously.

Karl felt as if he was burning up with embarrassment now, but he’d passed the point of no return, so he answered her candidly. "No, I think they’re gorgeous. I don’t understand why you think they’d be otherwise."

Pandora had a ready answer for that. "Because the bustiest vixen in my entire clan isn’t even half my size. Because all the other vixens have sleek figures and mock me for the way I look! Because I’ve heard far too many cow jokes at my expense!" she said bitterly. "Hardly a day goes by when someone doesn’t have a dig at me saying things like, ‘Has the farmer been by to milk you yet, Bossie?’ Worse yet, they turn all the tods against me too and none will have anything to do with me. I hate them! I’ve hated how these things wouldn’t stop growing until a blind person couldn’t miss them! I haven’t had a truly happy day since shortly after I hit puberty. If it wasn’t for the Obligation, I’d still be a virgin!" She stopped then, finally realising that she’d said more than she had intended. However, all the anger and frustration had come boiling up out of her then, released by the relief of surviving a near-fatal experience. She started weeping then, and when Karl came over to her to wrap his arms comfortingly around her, she didn’t resist. He let her cry her heart out in much-needed catharsis. Finally she was done, and she gently disengaged from him. "I’m sorry for blowing up like that. It… it’s been a strain."

"It’s okay, Pandora. However, let me point out to you that I’ve had dealings with several foxtaur clans, and I’ve seen many vixens who are well endowed like you. Your clan might run to small breasts, but you’re not that unusual."

"You’ve seen vixens with a bust as big as mine?"

"Well, almost as big," he admitted honestly. "But I’ve hardly seen even a small fraction of all the foxtaur vixens, so it would hardly be surprising to find bigger busts still. I can definitely say that those vixens weren’t the subject of ridicule in their clans, and you don’t deserve it either."

Pandora was almost overwhelmed by that concept. For years she had nothing else to go by but what other vixens said. She had never left the clan’s territory, so she only knew what some other clans looked like by the few visitors, and most had been tods anyway. None had been busty vixens. It had taken a human to tell her that she was not a freak. It gave her a feeling she couldn’t honestly say she had ever felt before. She gazed at the man who had saved her, both in body, and now perhaps emotionally too. Shyly, she asked, "Would you… like to touch them?"

This was hardly a question Karl had ever expected a female to ever ask of him, and he was briefly stunned.

Pandora wondered at his reaction. Had she offended him or made him nervous? "I mean it. We’re not as body shy as you humans, so we are more physically expressive. If you like them, would you like to touch them? As a reward for rescuing me?" she asked earnestly.

He couldn’t think of any way to gracefully decline without crushing her spirit. But as a reward? He could cope with that. "I think I’d like that."

She stepped up close, undoing the halter top, smiling expectantly. He couldn’t back out now, nor did he really want to. He lifted his hands to her breasts, caressing them. She sighed, her eyes closing as she savoured his touch. He was surprised at how firm they were for their size, and the silky fur over them made for a delightful texture. And her nipples! They were large and hard with excitement, and she trembled as his thumbs brushed over them. She was obviously getting horny as hell, and he wasn’t much less so now. He reluctantly took his hands off her and she sighed both in pleasure and frustration. She opened her eyes again to look earnestly at him.

"I have never felt that much pleasure in the hands of a male before. I hope you enjoyed it too."

Karl nodded earnestly, then added, "I was right though. You do have a perfectly wonderful pair there."

"Thank you, Karl. Would I be right in guessing that you have what humans call a tit fetish?"

"You got me there. I have indeed, but for that very reason I can say with fair authority just what exactly is attractive and what is not."

"Then I will accept the word of the only expert I’ve ever known," she replied with a large smile. "Now should I put the halter back on or not?"

"Now you’re teasing me," he replied with a lopsided grin. "Okay, leave it off. You’re prettier without it anyway."

"For you, Karl, I’ll do just that!" she said emphatically, throwing the halter onto her pack. "Now, I’m still starving. Let’s eat!"

The two shared their various foodstuffs to make a more interesting meal, and if Pandora happened to seem to strike a pose that showed off her endowments, Karl was happy to let his sight linger on them. He enjoyed looking, and she enjoyed being looked at with desire. It was a very pleasant lunch.

"What do you plan to do now?" Pandora asked curiously.

Karl paused as he packed up everything brought out for the meal. He had no good answer for her. "I suppose I’ll keep doing what I was doing before I met you – follow my nose."

"What? That little thing? If you’re going to follow a nose, you need a muzzle like mine at least!" she joked.

Karl smiled. "I don’t know. It found you when you needed me, didn’t it?"

"You’ve got me there," she admitted. "Seriously though, where do you intend going?"

"I don’t have any particular goal. I think I’ll just keep following the river."

"Would you mind if I tag along for a while?"

Karl looked at the vixen with one eyebrow lifted in query. "I though that you were on some sort of spirit quest or something."

"I am. That’s why I wish to go with you."

"Huh? How’s that work?"

"A spirit quest isn’t just a tramp in the woods. You have to look for signs that will guide you to fulfil your quest. And Karl, I think meeting you is no coincidence."

"Why would you think that? And why would you think a human can help a foxtaur’s spirit quest?"

"You’ve already helped me, Karl. I think the rest will reveal itself if I stay with you. This part of the country should be empty of any people at this time, yet the two of us met here. Perhaps our meeting was destined?"

Karl smiled gently. "I have respect for your beliefs, Pandora, but I find it hard to believe that that would be true. However, if you want, you can come with me. It’s not as if I could stop you anyway, particularly if I’m in foxtaur territory as you mentioned."

"That’s true, but I’d rather have a willing companion."

"Well, I think I’d enjoy the company."

"It’s decided then," Pandora said, picking up her pack and strapping it on. "Are you ready?"

Karl nodded and started heading upstream. For a while they walked in silence. They walked side by side where they could, Karl taking the lead most other times, while Pandora found a way past some awkward sections. Eventually though, Pandora broke the quiet.

"Why are you here, Karl?" she asked simply.

For a long time, he didn’t reply, but Pandora waited patiently.

Eventually he sighed and said, "I had this idea of just marching into the forest and not bothering to come back out again."

That hadn’t exactly been what she had anticipated, although she had already figured out that something was bothering him that had nothing to do with her. "That didn’t really answer the question though. Why would you want to do that?"

He turned his head to look at her seriously. "Because I don’t care anymore."

"Don’t care about what?" Getting answers from him was a bit like pulling teeth – a slow and painful process.

Again he didn’t answer for a long time, then eventually he stopped and sighed. "If you really want to know, I’ll tell you, but don’t blame me if it bores you."

"If nothing else, I owe you a sympathetic ear," she answered determinedly.

Karl sat down on a convenient rock. Pandora just settled on her rump in front of him, close enough to be attentive, but not so close as to make him uncomfortable.

"I was married to a bitch, and no, I don’t mean to a female canine. She sank her teeth into me, chewed me up and spat me out like one though. After she was done with me, I had nothing. No money, no possessions, no daughter, and no life. I came out here because I had nothing to live for anymore. I have no goal. I have no intention of going back to so-called civilisation though. Actually this wasn’t a very well thought-out course of action either, but as I said earlier, I don’t care anymore. I just headed where impulse took me."

"You seemed to care when you rescued me though," Pandora observed.

"You never did me wrong, and I couldn’t just let you die."

"For which I’ll be eternally grateful. But back to you. What did this… bitch… do to you?"

"Okay, the long sob-story then. I suppose I should start by saying that I am a carpenter by trade. I'm a professional cabinetmaker, but by the time I met Isabel, I had been making and selling my own designs for top quality goods in my own private business for a few years. That’s how I got to know several foxtaur clans – they supplied me with some of the best wood that was hard to get anywhere else but in the foxtaur territories. Anyway, I had built my company from the ground up until it was past the struggling stage and had started turning a nice profit. Then one day, a new customer came into my showroom. She was a drop-dead gorgeous lady, tall, well-built, not fashionably thin like some, long red hair, and a pair of tits that absolutely knocked my socks off." Karl looked at Pandora to watch her reaction to that last bit.

Pandora though, being a foxtaur vixen with a lot more down-to-earth attitude to such things, merely took it as a piece of relevant information. She already had a suspicion what was going to happen though.

Karl continued. "As you probably can guess, this was Isabel. She had come into the showroom on the pretext of being interested in a formal dining table. Later I came to realise that it wasn’t the table she was interested in though. I didn’t know it, but we had both been at a social occasion where she had first learned about me. Back then I was still single and dating, not settling down with any one person. Isabel apparently decided that I was her target of choice and found out as much as she could about me. That first day in the shop, she started seducing me, and the fool that I was, I loved all the attention. It was a whirlwind romance, and before I knew it, we were tying the knot. Things changed almost at once after that. Where she had been playful and seductive, she was now more reserved, doling out her sexual favours only occasionally. She got involved with the business, taking over more and more duties in the office. One of the reasons behind the success of my business was a handful of people who worked with me to build the business from very small beginnings. Suddenly they started leaving, one by one, and I was too blind to see why. Then suddenly, Maria, my accountant and secretary who had been a godsend when we were still struggling, announced that she was resigning. I was shocked, but I was also puzzled when she wished me luck as I was going to need it. That left Isabel alone in the office, and myself working harder in the factory to compensate for the loss of my key workers. In other words, Isabel had me exactly where she wanted me. In the meantime, she gave birth to our daughter. She had apparently fallen pregnant during our very brief honeymoon, and after she knew she was expecting, sex pretty much stopped straight after. She was ‘concerned for the baby’, she’d tell me. Hell, she wouldn’t even let me hold the baby after she was born! Claimed she couldn’t trust her in my rough strong hands!"

By now, Karl’s voice had practically risen to shouting. He shuddered in reaction, then forced himself to calm down. While he did so, Pandora took the opportunity to ask a question.

"So you’re saying that Isabel’s goal was to take control of your business. She sounds like a ruthless business person, but wasn’t she just trying to do her best for the family business? I don’t like her attitude towards you and your child, but I’ve come across overprotective mothers before."

Karl smiled in grim humour. Now his voice was deadly calm. "Oh no, you’ve severely underestimated Isabel, almost as much as I did. She had no intention of stopping there. Over a period of a few years, she slowly robbed me blind. She eventually tricked me out of my shares in the business. Handling the accounts had always been Maria’s job, but without her there to control Isabel, I was swindled with my eyes wide open. Then one day, my baby girl kicked me in the shins, verbally abused me and told me she never wanted to see me again, and Isabel just stood there smiling in triumph. It was at that moment that I realised what a total and utter fool I had been, and I also knew that it was now too late to do anything. I grabbed a couple of things and I left the house. Her lawyer served me with divorce papers the very next day."

Pandora was shocked at what he said about his daughter, even more so than the rest of the revelations. "She poisoned your own child against you?"

Karl was too choked up to reply immediately, so he just nodded. Pandora waited for him to be able to continue. Eventually he continued with a rough voice, "That and more. To cut a long story short, she used me from square one. She used me to get my money, my possessions, my business, and even my sperm to produce a legitimate child for legal purposes, a child that she could mould to her own image and purpose. We fought over the legalities in court, but she’d done her work too well. Eventually I gave up. I no longer cared anymore. I cut a deal to sign over everything that I still owned, including all remaining control in the business. I would walk out with little more than my clothes and a suitcase of stuff, and in return she would never have a call on me financially again. Since then I’ve been drifting, doing odd jobs for food and shelter. Then with the last of my money, I bought a few supplies and headed into the forest here. A few days later, I met you."

Pandora regarded him intensely, then said, "Did you come out here to die?"

He shrugged. "I’m not actively trying to commit suicide, if that’s what you’re asking. I have some vague idea about being a hermit, and if I don’t ever come back, then who would care?"

"Well I care, for one!" Pandora protested.

Karl was taken aback by the vixentaur’s vehemence and merely gaped at her while she continued.

"I can’t believe that you don’t have any friends who would miss you or mourn your passing. I know that I would since you saved my life. You’ve had a raw deal, but you’re still young enough to start again. Marching off into the depths of the forest is not the answer."

"What about you?" he retorted. "You’re off on this spirit quest thing, also wandering into unfamiliar territory!"

"Not that unfamiliar, and I have every intention of returning home when I believe the quest is fulfilled, despite how bad things have been lately."

"At least you have a home to go to," Karl said a bit sullenly.

An idea occurred to Pandora. "Perhaps you would like to come home with me? I have a spare room in my den that has never been used. You can stay until you have found a bit of inner peace and begun your life over."

Karl stared at her, his mind racing in circles. Finally he asked, "Why would you do this for me?"

She looked him earnestly in the eye. "Because I believe my quest has led me to you for some reason, and because it’s flattering to have a male appreciative of my looks for a change." She drew closer to him. "Do you know how happy you made me just by your touch? For a brief moment, I had no cares; I felt beautiful and sexy for once in life." She put one hand on his chest and took his right hand with her other. She drew it to her breast. "I want to feel that way again. I still owe you more than I can repay anyway."

Karl could feel Pandora’s nipple hard beneath the fur. "Pandora, I… I really liked that too, but you really don’t have to do this…."

She interrupted him. "Yes I do! What sort of reward is it when I get more out of it than you do? I have been without the willing touch of a male for most of my adult life, and I long for more. If I can reward you at the same time, don’t we both win?"

Unable or unwilling to refute her argument, he simply nodded agreement.

"Then you’ll come home with me?"

"Yes. If that will make you happy."

"It would, but something else would make me even happier now," Pandora took both his hands and pressed them to her breasts. "Take your pleasure with these as much as you want. If they truly make you happy, then I’ll be happy too."

"Can I take off my pack first?" Karl asked plaintively.

Pandora laughed and released him, taking the opportunity to remove her own pack at the same time. When both were done, neither hesitated any more and they indulged in petting and licking and much sighing in pleasure. Then Pandora started fumbling with Karl’s jeans.

"What are you doing?" he asked, startled.

"Trying to figure out how to open this thing you’re wearing."

"But why?"

"Don’t be silly. I think you know why.

"But you don’t have to do this, Pandora!"

"You’re absolutely right; I don’t. That’s what makes it even better. I’m doing it because I want to. I want to see your reaction to me, to feel your manhood, to give you pleasure in return."

"How can you like me that much? I’m a plain hairless human; you’re a gorgeously furred vixen!"

"I like the feel of your smooth skin, and you’re not unhandsome," she demurred.

"Isn’t this rather sudden?" Karl asked, rapidly running out of objections.

"I thought you knew things about foxtaurs? A vixen has much competition for the attentions of the tods due to the males being outnumbered three to one by the females. You have to learn to know your needs and desires and be able to act on them quickly. I want you, Karl. I want to pleasure you too. I’m not Isabel; I don’t want anything else of you but a bit of mutual pleasure. Won’t you let me?"

Hardly believing what was happening, yet having his long-suppressed libido rapidly being revived, Karl could not resist the vixen, and helped her disrobe him. Then she gently pushed him to the ground. She brought his face to one of her large breasts and said, "They’re all yours!"

Karl willingly indulged, and hardly noticed as Pandora manoeuvred him until his head rested on his pack and she lay on top of him. She could feel the hardness of his penis against her soft belly. Not quite as big as the average foxtaur tod’s, nevertheless it was of more than adequate size, and Pandora felt herself being more and more aroused. She put a tender hand to his face and Karl paused his fondling of her breasts to gaze back at her. Then she lifted her hind quarters up and said, "Can you spare a hand for a moment to hold your cock upright?"

With a slight tremble, Karl did as she asked. She shifted forward then lowered herself until they felt her wet labia meet the head of his penis. She smiled reassuringly at him before pushing down against it so that it entered her smoothly. She pushed until she had taken all of him and they both groaned in combined relief and pleasure at their joining.

They exchanged broad smiles for a long moment before Pandora began to move up and forward, then down and back, stroking his shaft deliciously. Karl stroked Pandora’s nipples, and they both sighed, groaned and gasped in pleasure as they both found physical release. Karl came first, but the feel of his pulsing cock delivering his seed into her swept Pandora immediately into an orgasm of an intensity that she had never previously experienced. The moment lasted forever, yet ended too soon, and Pandora collapsed into Karl’s arms as they both panted and laughed joyously. They stayed embraced for a considerable time before Karl’s penis slipped free as his erection faded, then they reluctantly disengaged from each other.

Karl propped himself up on one elbow as Pandora rolled lithely to her feet, admiring her grace. Pandora soaked up the silent flattery a bit, then held out her hand to Karl to bring him to his feet also. They stood unselfconsciously face to face, although she had to look upwards, and he downwards. Then she put her hand behind his neck and pulled his head down to her level, giving him a quick lick on the cheek: a lick-kiss. He returned it with an awkward human-style kiss that, despite the mismatched mouths, lasted longer than either thought it would. Finally they parted reluctantly, and Karl started picking up his scattered clothing to get dressed after wiping off the dirt and leaves that clung to him. Pandora fished out a brush from her pack to tame and clean her dishevelled fur at the same time.

Pandora was the first to speak as she realised something. "It’s rapidly getting dark. May I suggest we make camp for the evening? I don’t know about you, but I’ve worked up quite an appetite!"

Karl laughed but had to agree. "Me too. Yeah, might as well pitch camp here in the clearing. I can build a fire to cook us some food."

"Want to share stuff again?"


It was as if they’d been working together for weeks as they coordinated their efforts in making camp. Karl had to set up a tent, but Pandora only had little more than a ground sheet and a fly sheet that would protect her head from falling debris. In this warm weather, her fur was enough to keep her comfortable throughout the night. So while Karl coped with poles and pegs, she took a rope and a large billycan and fetched water from the river in the nearby gorge. Then, from their humble supplies, they cooked up a feast, supplemented by some ripe fruit that Pandora had spotted. The stars were out by the time they had eaten all the food and cleaned up. Karl propped himself up against a log and gazed at the heavens as they revealed themselves. Pandora sat next to him and shared the view in quiet companionship. Eventually he broke the silence with a question.

"So, you’re really ending your quest just to take me back to your village?"

"No, my quest is completed."

"Oh? I thought you were seeking some foxtaur tod who would love you as you are?"

"That was never my goal."

Karl looked at Pandora curiously. "Then what were you seeking?"

"Happiness," she replied simply.

"That’s it? Just happiness? How can you go seeking in a particular direction for that?"

"If you narrow your goal too much, you may miss what you truly seek. All I wanted was to be happy, and my spirit quest led me to you. I have not been this happy and content for far too many years, so my quest was indeed successful."

Karl could not argue with her feelings, but wondered how long her happiness could last. What would she do when he inevitably had to leave?

Karl woke up rapidly as a claw-tip tickled the sole of his left foot that was sticking out of the tent flap.

"Rise and groom, sleepy! We’re a long way from the village and we’re burning daylight!

Karl groaned but complied. He had started getting out of the habit of early rising since he had begun drifting. He was a bit ashamed though to find that Pandora had not only gotten up, but also had the fire going, the billy boiling and food cooking. He freshened up quickly and gratefully accepted the plate of food that she served up to him. As he ate, he observed the mist drifting through the trees already beginning to burn off from the morning sun. The gentle roar of the nearby river was punctuated by calling birds. It seemed an idyllic setting to him, and when he turned his gaze back to the sexy vixentaur, it all seemed to enhance her in his eyes.

She smiled at him. "Do you like your breakfast?" she asked as if unaware of his regard.

He was momentarily tongue-tied, then replied, "It’s good." ‘God, that was lame!’ he thought. He hastily added, "You’re going to spoil me if you keep this up."

"It’s nice to have someone to spoil for once. However, you’re going to need the energy from that meal. It’s a long walk to my village from here, and we need to get started soon." She got up off her haunches to take the plate he’d just emptied. Rinsing them off with the remainder of the hot water used to make tea, she quickly and efficiently started packing up.

Karl hastened to pack his tent and was barely ready when Pandora was. "Where to now?" he asked.

Pandora pointed upstream. "Same way we were going yesterday. We should soon come to the bridge that I ought to have used, and there’s a path from there that eventually ends up at my village. If we maintain a pace like yesterday, we should make it there comfortably before sunset."

"Then we’d better get going. Lead on!"

The two set off, Pandora in the lead, following a near invisible trail, with Karl following close behind. Not only did he want to let the expert do the path-finding, he found that he was enjoying the view of the vixentaur’s swaying backside and tail.

It took only about twenty minutes before they hit a large, well-used trail that led to the bridge. It too was made of rope, but unlike the other, was built far more sturdily, was well-maintained, and had wooden slats to give a secure footing to all users. The handholds were a bit low for comfort though, so it was obviously built mainly for the convenience of the foxtaurs. Pandora crossed it quickly, but Karl took it a tad more carefully.

"Okay, we double back for a bit until the path diverges from the river," Pandora informed him. "It’s a major trail, so the going should be fairly easy."

"Let’s get moving then!" Without an excuse to follow behind anymore, Karl elected to forge ahead. Pandora settled into an easy trot beside him. He still cast the occasional glance at the wonderful bosom bobbing alongside, but Pandora never said anything more. However her happy smile seemed indelible all morning.

Both walkers conserved their breath for travelling, but eventually Pandora called for a break. Karl looked at his watch and was surprised to see that it was already past midday. Prior to meeting Pandora, his days had seemed to drag. They’d stopped by one of the frequent crystal-clear streams that fed the river that they had left behind. At this point most were easy to cross without getting feet or paws wet. They elected not to take the time and trouble of building a fire for a hot drink, but they did fill up their water bottles. They sat down to eat some trail food and rest for a little bit. Conversation had been almost lacking between them up until now, but it had been a comfortable easy quiet. However, finally Pandora broke the silence.

"I’m curious about something, Karl, although if you don’t want to talk about it, I’ll understand."

"Now you’ve got me curious too. Ask away. Let me judge for myself."

For the first time though, the vixen looked embarrassed. She’d resolved to ask though, and pushed herself to say, "I’m… curious about what we did yesterday. Is it... do I feel like a human female? On the inside, I mean?"

Despite having been forewarned, Karl was still felt himself blushing at the question. He thought about it though and attempted to answer her. "As best as I can recall, you felt just like any other female that I’ve… er… been with. In fact, if it wasn’t for the fur around your labia, you seem almost the same. I suppose the thing to ask now is: what about me? Was I… different?"

"Actually, aside from slight differences in size, your penis looks much like a foxtaur tod’s. Felt like one too! I’ve known for a long time that the genitals of male foxtaurs are nothing like our animal cousins, unlike the wolftaurs who seem very similar to their wild kin, cock-knot and all. I’m glad not to have one of those poking into me!" Then she noticed Karl blushing fiercely. "I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to embarrass you. I felt much the same way when I asked my question, but although I knew about males simply by having seen it, I couldn’t say the same about females, and I wanted to know if your experience yesterday was… well… weird."

Their mutual discomfiture seemed to cancel each out mostly, and Karl was able to smile and say, "No, it was wonderfully comfortable. It’s almost as if foxtaurs were made to be… compatible… with humans."

"Oh, yes. Compatible indeed!" Pandora agreed fervently.

They looked at each other, then burst into laughter.

"Oh, I feel like a pubescent kit again, discussing what sex must be like!"

"Yeah, sounds like a number of conversations I had with my teenage friends years ago." Karl sighed. "I wish I could be that innocent again."

Pandora put her arm around his waist and hugged him. "Then we might never have shared that delightful experience. I regret nothing."

"Me neither," he replied, returning the hug.

Soon after, they recommenced their walk, but this time the conversation flowed steadily. The awkwardness had been dealt with, and now they could just be two companions enjoying the hike.

They made it to the village in good time. The path opened up to reveal a glen through which a stream flowed. On either side, sufficiently high enough to be out of reach of floods, foxtaur dens, gardens and other trappings of villages lined the sides of the valley. It seemed pleasantly bucolic, and Karl liked what he saw. He hoped that its inhabitants were similarly agreeable. His hopes were to be somewhat dashed very quickly.

Pandora paused long enough to put her halter top back on As they walked down the main trail that paralleled the stream, two vixens approaching from the opposite direction accosted them.

"What’s this human doing here?" the first demanded. She resembled Pandora a lot, including the white gloves and boots, and the voluminous tail, but her face fur wasn’t all white. Her cheeks and forehead were the same orange as her main fur.

"I know!" the second exclaimed. "She’s finally brought the farmer home to meet us. Going to give us a milking demonstration, Pannie?" she laughed nastily. Again, she looked a lot like Pandora, although her face was all orange-furred, and the tailtip was black this time. The biggest difference though was that both vixens would struggle to fill a B-cup.

Karl began to appreciate Pandora’s problem a lot more. He was about to respond when he felt Pandora squeeze his arm warningly.

"At least he can get something from me, unlike you two flat-chested, oxygen-wasters," Pandora retorted, then drew Karl along past the jeering vixens.

"Why did you stop me from putting those two in their place?" Karl asked when they were safely out of earshot.

"Because while my position can’t get any worse, you have a clean slate, and if you’re going to stay here any length of time, you don’t want to get on the bad side of too many, or else the Elders might decide to evict you," she explained.

"Oh. I see. Pandora, I can’t ignore that sort of thing forever."

"I know, Karl, but let’s not beg trouble too soon."

The two encountered only a couple more vixens and one tod as they passed through the village. One female made a mooing sound as she passed, but otherwise didn’t bother them, and the others passed without even acknowledging them. Pandora turned off on a lesser path that led up the sides of the valley. After a few minutes, they came to a den set into the hillside. Utilising natural stone and rough timbers, it blended into the scenery, and although it wasn’t camouflaged, it did look as if it belonged as part of the forest.

Pandora stepped up to the door and opened it, then said, "Welcome to my home, Karl. Umm, better watch your head."

Built to foxtaur scale, the lintel of the main entrance was just above eye level on Karl, and he ducked his head to enter. At first gloomy inside, the room was soon flooded with light as Pandora opened the shutters on the windows. Simple and rustic, the room was nevertheless attractive and homey. Karl liked it immediately. Pandora then indicated a small doorway.

"You can put your things in there. That’s the spare room, and it’s yours for as long as you wish to stay."

Karl unloaded himself as Pandora likewise divested herself of her backpacks and stored them away after removing a few items. Taking off his boots, Karl cooled his feet on the flagstones tiling the floor.

"I’m sorry, but I don’t have any chairs. I never anticipated having two-legged company."

"I’ll settle for one of these mats for now. If you have some suitable tools though, I’ll soon fix the lack."

"That’s right, you’re a carpenter. I do have the basic tools, but nothing very fancy."

"I don’t need fancy tools. I’m not planning to make something much more than a serviceable stool for now."

"Okay. You just relax there on a lounging rug for now. I’ll throw together something quick and easy for a meal. Then I’ll show you around before it gets too dark. I tend to prefer going to bed early and rising early too."

The kitchen area was an alcove of the overall living space, so the two could talk while she made the meal. Karl observed how almost nothing of high technology showed, a typical attribute of foxtaur dwellings. Rough wood and stone were the typical building materials, and some of the walls were the bare rock of the hillside. He realised that the den must have been built partially into a cave. He noted a few electrical light fixtures, and there was probably a modern comm set hidden away somewhere, but he didn’t plan on using it. What Karl noticed though was a lack of memorabilia. Most dens he’d had the opportunity to visit in trading with the foxtaurs had quite a collection of keepsakes and mementos on the walls. Pandora’s were virtually bare. Perhaps she simply wasn’t interested in such things, but Karl suspected that it was more likely that she had never found much worth remembering.

The meal was tasty and filling, but awkward to eat. Although she had a table, Karl was forced to stand. He resolved to make the chair a high priority. He helped clean up, then Pandora invited him to follow her outside. She led him to one side of the den where there was a clearing that was just slipping into shadow as the sun set. It was apparently positioned to take the maximum advantage of available sunlight, because the whole area was filled with vegetables in neat rows.

"This is my market garden," Pandora explained. This is how I make a living. I trade for meat with the hunters, and occasionally earn a few spare credits to spend on a luxury item. I’ll have to go to work first thing tomorrow to catch up on the days I’ve missed. Fortunately the mild weather has allowed it to survive okay without me for the time that I was away. I admit that I was a little worried about bad weather."

"You handle all this by yourself?" Karl marvelled.

"Of course. It’s not too hard, and I like my work."

"It must be nice to have a constant supply of fresh food in your yard."

"Don’t forget it snows in these parts. I need to store a lot to get through the winter."

"Oh yeah. You can tell I’m city folk, can’t you?"

She smiled indulgently back at him. "Come on, let me show you the rest." Pandora showed Karl the beautiful unspoilt woods that surrounded her den before retreating inside as darkness rapidly settled. She served them both hot cocoa, something Karl hadn’t had since he’d been a child, but Pandora loved.

"I heard that chocolate was supposed to be bad for canines," Karl observed.

Pandora shrugged. "Foxtaurs seem to be an exception to that rule. Another way we’re more like humans, yes?"

"Yeah, and I think I could enjoy getting reacquainted with this stuff. That hit the spot!"

"Good. I’m glad you liked it. And now, as I said, I really should be heading for bed. What about yourself?"

"It’s been a long day, and I think I’ll turn in early also."

"Would you like me to wake you in the morning?"

"Yes, please."

"Okay." She hesitated outside the doors of the sleeping dens. "As I said earlier, this room is all yours for now," she said, indicating the relevant room. Then she turned to look him earnestly in his eyes. "However, I would prefer it if you’d do me the pleasure of joining me in my bed tonight."

Karl didn’t have to ponder long. "I’d like that," he replied.

Pandora’s face lit up with joy, and she practically dragged him into her room.

Her bed was basically a large futon with an extra large pillow. She laid down on it, draping herself seductively across the pillow and waited for him expectantly.

This time there was no shyness or hesitation. Karl disrobed as Pandora watched appreciatively. She smiled as he revealed that his cock was already at full attention. To have a companion who thought her to be sexy was the greatest pleasure that she had had in years, and she didn’t care that he wasn’t even her species.

Karl knelt on the mattress in front of her, his smile matching hers. To him, a companion who wanted him for himself rather than for what he could give her was a dream come true, and species was also irrelevant.

The two gazed into each other’s eyes for a long moment before they leaned together to kiss. Like the first time, there were a few moments of awkwardness as the two figured out how to kiss with two different kinds of mouths, but when both were comfortable, the kiss went on for ages. Eventually they parted, but the smiles on their faces showed how much pleasure they’d gotten from it, and how ready they were to go on to the next level.

Karl shifted to a position behind Pandora, reaching around her to start caressing the nearer of her firm breasts. Beneath his fingers, her nipple hardened in excitement. Then his hand shifted to the other breast to do the same, but at the same he leaned forward to start suckling at the first breast. He closed his eyes and enjoyed the feel of the large nipple in his mouth and the weight of the other breast in his hand. His excitement was building and his cock was beginning to ache with anticipation.

Pandora was a bit surprised when he started suckling, but that rapidly changed to great pleasure as the erotic nature of the action turned her on immensely. "Ooh! That’s wonderful! Oh… I never knew it could feel like this! I wish I had milk to give you!"

Karl paused barely long enough to say, "That would be nice, but it’s the attempt that gives me pleasure, and you too, I’m thinking." He went back to his delightful efforts.

By now though, Pandora was beyond words as the pleasure flooded her being, and when he resumed suckling, it triggered an orgasm that left her panting.

An orgasm just from him pleasuring my breasts? I can hardly believe it! Do other vixens get them? Are mine extra sensitive? If so, I’m never going to regret their size again!

Karl had noticed her stiffening and trembling as the orgasm hit her, and when she was done he lifted his head to smile at her. "Do you want more?" he asked.

"Oh yes! Don’t stop now! Join with me, my lover!" She lifted her hind leg in invitation and Karl could see that the fur around her labia was sodden with the love juice that was leaking from between them. He shifted position until his penis rested in the damp fur. Rubbing against it, he got it moist with the lubricant before parting the lips of the labia. Pandora watched in anticipation, then gasped as he pushed himself smoothly into her. They were one once again, and it was beautiful.

Karl resumed pleasuring them both by fondling and suckling her breasts, but he also started a gentle back and forth motion of his hips to elicit more waves of pleasure from her vagina. Pandora in turn responded with her limited sexual experience by trying to use her vaginal muscles to squeeze the rigid flesh that they surrounded. Briefly she looked at them both united in pleasure, human and foxtaur, and knew that it was right and beautiful. Then she lost herself in their mutual lovemaking. When their climax came, it exceeded their first together.

They cuddled as they enjoyed the afterglow. Eventually Karl propped himself up on an elbow to look at her and noticed that she was crying. "Is something wrong, Pandora?" he asked in concern, brushing a tear from her cheek-fur.

She shook her head. "They’re tears of happiness. I’m so full of joy right now that I can’t keep it in!"

Karl smiled tenderly. "I think I know exactly what you mean."

Karl woke, momentarily disoriented by the unfamiliar surroundings. The blanket over him seemed strange too. Then he remembered where he was and was startled to realise what his blanket really was. He was curled up with Pandora wrapped around him, his head pillowed against her breasts, and her huge fluffy tail covering most of the rest of him, keeping him perfectly warm. Seeing as he was still nude, the chilly morning air would have made for a poor sleep, if any, if it wasn’t for the furry blanket.

His movements woke Pandora, and she said, "Good morning, lover."

"A very good morning, Pandora. You make a very comfortable blanket. In fact so comfortable, I hate to move."

"Thank you, but regrettably I must rise. There’s work to be done. Besides, last night gave me a huge appetite!"

Karl realised that he too was hungry once it was pointed out. However, there was one thing that needed attention. "I need to clean up first."

"Then you go do what you need to do, and I’ll fix us up some breakfast. I’ll freshen up afterwards."

Karl grabbed his clothes. Unfortunately he didn’t have more than a single pair of clean underpants left, and no changes of clothes, so he’d have to make do until he could do some laundry. He made his way quickly to the bathroom, starting to shiver now that he was unprotected by Pandora’s fur. Yesterday he had checked out the facilities. The toilet designed for taurs had taken a bit of improvising to use, but it vaguely resembled a traditional Japanese style one, and if they could use that, so could he. The shower was still a shower though, although the stall had more manoeuvring room for a taur body. Hot water was in abundant supply too, and he was quickly invigorated and feeling much cleaner. There was nothing bigger than a handtowel though, but it was obvious that a foxtaur needed something other than a towel to dry all that fur. He found the switch for the fans that blew strong draughts of warm air through the stall, rapidly drying him, then he dressed and rejoined Pandora.

"That was quick," she said. "But I suppose not having a lot of fur to dry saves a great deal of time. Breakfast is ready anyway." She served up a large meal of eggs, bacon and toast. Then she flicked her tongue on his cheek in a lick-kiss and said, "I’ve had mine. I’ve got to clean up a bit now. Take your time."

Karl savoured the meal, then cleaned up as best he could. Pandora was back more quickly than he anticipated. She explained that she hadn’t had a full shower as she was going to get dirty again very quickly when she got out in the field. She’d have a good one after work. She took Karl outside and opened a door to a small shed that was recessed into the hillside like the den.

"I keep my tools in here. I also have some screws, nails and materials for doing repairs. Hopefully you will find what you need to make that chair you need."

Karl looked about. Her tool collection wasn’t very extensive, but it seemed that she had all the basics covered. "This should do fine. I’ll get straight to work on it."

"If you need me, I’ll be over in that field," she said, indicating the one she meant. "Have fun!"

She trotted off and Karl started taking materials out of the shed and setting himself up. Aside from the shed roof overhanging a simple workbench, the area was open to the elements. It had been a long time since Karl had worked under such primitive conditions, but he was going to enjoy the challenge of getting back to the basics. He then took a bit of time assessing the materials he had to work with before deciding on a design, then set willingly to work.

Pandora’s first task was to start the watering system on some of the crops. The weather had been kind in her absence, but some plants badly needed a drink by now. If it had been any warmer, she would have had to make sure they were watered last night instead of relaxing after the journey. She next attended to the tomatoes which needed to have the offshoots thinned out and then tied up to their stakes. She was still doing this when Karl arrived, surprising her.

"Is there a problem?" she asked.

"Nope. I’ve pretty much finished."


"I’m a professional carpenter, remember? Even without all the tools, this was a pretty straightforward job for me, and it's only a very basic design. I will need to get some sandpaper to finish it off though. Some stain too if I want to make a complete job of it."

"Sorry, I should have realised that it would be an easy job for you. We can go to the general store and get that sandpaper and stain for you right now if you wish."

"Perhaps we’ll skip the stain for now. It’d take too long to dry and I need the chair immediately. I can always do that a bit later." ‘If I’m still around long enough,’ he added in his head.

"Why don’t you pick some of the ripe tomatoes, while I harvest a few other crops. I can do a bit of trading for stuff we need at the same time. There’s some baskets back in the shed."

"Okay," he said and jogged off to fetch the baskets.

They quickly picked a large load, much of which was put into carriers slung on either side of Pandora’s lower torso. Karl carried two hand-baskets also though. They then walked to the village centre to the trading post, fortunately encountering none of the malicious vixens, although the human garnered a lot of curious stares. The place was actually not only the general store, but also where farmers, hunters and crafters exchanged their goods. The foxtaur in charge was a greying tod, possibly old enough to be Pandora’s grandfather. Typical of foxtaur males, he had no human-like hair, only fur on his head. It seemed like he did though because the orange fur met the white fur on his face about where a hairline would be, and made it look as if he had closely cropped hair. His whiskers were grey, and the black ears were now salt and pepper instead, but his eyes showed that he was still full of life, and missed nothing that went on around him.

"Good day, Pandora. I see that the rumours were true. You did return with a human."

"Good morning, Randar. Let me introduce to you my friend, Karl. He’s staying with me for a while."

"Pleased to meet you, sir," Karl said, extending his hand.

The tod took it firmly. "The name’s Randar, not sir, okay? I see Pandora’s put you to work already." His eyes indicated the baskets that Karl had put down.

Karl laughed. "Yes, I have to earn my keep, it seems."

"Good! Now what can I do for you both?"

Pandora said, "I need to lay in a few supplies for Karl’s needs before market day, so I thought I’d see if you could do with some fresh produce."

"I can indeed. What did you need?"

"Well, first of all, Karl needs sandpaper."

"Sandpaper?" Randar looked queryingly at Karl.

"To finish off a chair I just made," Karl explained.

Randar smiled. "Ah, yes. Not too many of those around this village. Come right this way."

Karl chose the sandpaper he needed, then the three of them worked out their other needs that could be afforded with what they were bartering. The tod seemed to have an uncanny knack of knowing exactly what they needed almost before they asked for it. All the time, he also elicited a general explanation of how Karl came to be there, although both Karl and Pandora refrained from revealing any of the more private details. Then the trader bade them a cheery farewell as he left to attend another customer.

"Nice fellow," Karl remarked as they carried their goods back home.

"Yes, he’s very nice, and also the greatest source of information in the village. By the end of the day, everyone will know everything about us."

"Is that going to be a bad thing?" Karl asked worriedly.

"Actually it’s a good thing," Pandora reassured him. "Randar is a very shrewd judge of character, and if he likes you, he’ll put a good spin on the news. He liked you straight off, by the way."

"He seems to be a very kind and understanding person, the way he was so helpful with his suggestions. He also seemed very friendly to you, unlike what you told me about the other tods."

"He’s far more mature than them, and way beyond the influence of the vixens who are my peers. In fact, he’s the kind of tod whom I would have liked as a mate."

Karl thought about that for a bit. "So, his age made him both suitable and unsuitable at the same time?"

"That, and the fact that he’s very devoted to his lifemate."

"Just one? I thought all tods ended up with several?"

"No, some are happy to have just one mate, although that still doesn’t stop the vixens from trying, or claiming him for an Obligation. He’s responsible for siring many kits in the village."

"Although I’m hardly an expert at judging such, I would have thought he was too old by now."

Pandora snorted in amusement. "Old, yes, but still very virile. I think he’ll be siring kits for a while yet. He’s a popular choice because he has a reputation for siring strong, healthy children."

"Did you ever consider having a kit by him, then?"

"Yes, actually, but he talked me out of it. He knew I wasn’t ready yet."

"Talked you out…? Did you have an Obligation liaison with him?"

Pandora stopped walking to look at Karl earnestly. "You knew I wasn’t a virgin. I even told you that I had had an Obligation assignation. I chose him precisely because he is a good tod who was sympathetic to me."

"Sorry, I didn’t mean to make it sound that way. I just found it strange to picture you and him together. I really need to get more at home with your customs if I’m going to be around for any length of time."

Pandora put her arm around Karl’s waist. "You’re the first person whom I really care for, Karl, and at least he taught me a few things about lovemaking so I wasn’t completely useless when we made love."

Karl put his arm around her shoulders. "Then I’m grateful to him. He made our night together so much better."

"Now that’s the foxtaur attitude!" Pandora laughed.

By the time that they got back to the den, Pandora declared that it was time to have a lunch break. Karl enjoyed some of the freshly picked tomatoes and lettuce on bread that they had just procured. After lunch, Karl headed off to finish the chair and Pandora went back to the fields. Karl rejoined her when he was done and volunteered to help Pandora for the rest of the day. It was hard work, and of a type that he was not used to, but he still enjoyed spending it with the vixentaur.

Pandora declared that work was done for the day when the sun got sufficiently low. After putting away all the tools, the grimy pair headed to the bathroom to clean up. When Karl offered to let Pandora shower first, she had simply pushed him into the stall ahead of her and they showered together. She scrubbed his back for him, while he returned the favour, shampooing her fur and rinsing her off. It took them twice as long as it needed to, but they both had other things on their mind besides cleaning themselves.

That evening, Pandora cooked a roast dinner, a rare treat but one that she was glad to be able to make for two people. She was very impressed by the chair that Karl had made. He had found enough material to make a chair with a back, rather than just the stool he’d said he’d make. That made his speed even more impressive. He sat opposite her at the table as they ate their dinner. This made her feel happier than the excellent food. ‘Almost like real mates,’ she thought wistfully.

After cleaning up the dinner mess, they spent a bit of time talking about what Pandora grew and how much she got at the market for it. He told her about the furniture business, and how you had to have an edge to be a success. His ability to produce stylish goods from the rarer woods had got him that edge, but he acknowledged that it was his foxtaur suppliers that had enabled it to happen. Pandora promised to take some time one day to see if they could find some suitable wood for making more furniture.

Then they headed off to bed early again. Pandora didn’t even ask Karl this time. She merely laid on her bed and patted a spot next to her. Karl willingly joined her.

"Do you want to have sex-play again?" she asked.

"You’re going to spoil me," he replied with a grin.

"You’re the first person that I have had to spoil. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do!"

They made love, and while it might not have been as earth-shaking as the previous night, both were more than satisfied. Afterwards, they settled down to sleep in the manner that they had found themselves that morning, the vixen’s tail once again serving as a blanket. That begun a habit that they would not break for a long time.

The next few days were much the same as each other until market day. Each morning after they ate breakfast, Pandora went out to her fields to work. For lack of anything better to do, not to mention a desire to pull his own weight, Karl joined her. They soon caught up with the backlog accumulated by her absence. One afternoon they spent a lot of time harvesting a wide selection of fruits and vegetables, loading them onto a cart designed to be pulled by a foxtaur. Early the next morning, they headed into the village, the slight downhill route making the going not too arduous for the vixentaur. They encountered many more foxtaurs than on previous occasions, all heading towards the market apparently. As before, several of the younger vixens made snide remarks to Pandora. However Karl noted that the more mature ones tended either to ignore her, or were quite pleasant. It seemed to him that only Pandora’s peers were the troublemakers, but of course that was more than enough to make her life miserable, especially as prospective mates were also amongst those peers.

Karl found the market to be fascinating. Farmers, herders, hunters and crafters not only haggled with each other over the value of their respective goods, but they also seemed to treat it as a major social occasion. More than one foxtaur was curious about him and what he was doing there. A couple of vixens tried to stir up trouble, but were quickly told to move on by Elders.

During a lull, Pandora remarked to Karl, "This has been the best market day I’ve had for ages, and you’re the reason."

"Me? How come?"

"People want to know about you and what you’re doing with me. They come over on the pretext of wanting to buy something, and they either buy more than they intended or pay more than they usually would because they’re distracted!"

"Well, I’m glad to have done my part," he replied with a grin.

The market closed about midday and the two went home with very little left over. After having lunch, Pandora said, "I need to work on my accounts this afternoon. The rest of the day is free. I’m not sure what you want to do though."

"I think I’ll poke around in the shed and see what I can make. Gotta keep my hand in, y’know?"

"Is there much timber left?"

"Not really, but one of the vixens whom I talked to this morning says she knows where to find some good timber, so I’m going to design a couple of things in anticipation of getting some."

"Okay, have fun!" she said, giving him a lick-kiss.

A couple of hours later, Karl came inside to get a drink. He found Pandora sighing over a pile of papers.

"What’s the matter, hon?" he asked.

Pandora smiled briefly at the endearment, but then sighed again and indicated the papers. "We have a problem."

"We do? What’s the problem?"

"Karl, my market gardens have sustained me pretty well for a few years, but even at its best, it won’t be able to sustain both of us."

"I see. I presume that’s what you’ve just been checking. There’s no potential for growth?"

"Not nearly enough. Our community is small, and as you saw today, I have competition for the goods that I supply. It won’t happen soon, but eventually we’re going to run out of both money and stores."

"So, either I leave, or get an additional income."

Pandora came over to him and put her arm around his waist reassuringly. "I said that you could stay as long as you needed to in order to get your life back on track. Personally, I’d like you to stay a while longer also."

Karl smiled back at her. "Don’t fret too much yet. I may have an answer to that problem."

"You do?" she said surprise. "What is it?"

"I’ll tell you more about it if it pans out. I’m going to go back to the village for a little bit. I suggest that you put away your paperwork and have a nap. You’ve earned a rest. I’ll be back before you know it!"

He left the stunned vixen’s embrace and headed out the door. Moments later he came back in. "Forgot that I was thirsty," he explained, grabbing a glass, filling it water and chugging it down. Then he left again.

Pandora decided to trust him and took his advice about a nap. It was either that or do some more worrying over the figures which weren’t about to change. She curled up on a patch of grass in the shade outside the den.

She dozed off quickly, but she wasn’t asleep for long before visitors woke her again.

Karl returned to the den to find Pandora lying on the grass with a half-forgotten mug of tea in her hand, seemingly just looking at the view. She looked preoccupied, but when she saw his grin, it made her feel more optimistic.

"Congratulate me," he said.

"Sure! For what?" she asked curiously.

"You’re looking at the new apprentice carpenter. I just lined up the job with Tobar, the village tradesman. I talked to him earlier at the market. It seems he’s been unable to attract an apprentice, and his workload is getting out of hand. I thought originally that I might be able to make some things to sell through his business, but a full-time job is more reliable."

"That’s great news, but you as an apprentice? You’re already a professional."

"Well, it’s basically for a trial period to see how things work out. Also, as he pointed out to me, foxtaurs do some things differently from humans, and I would need to learn a few new tricks. If every goes well though, I will very quickly be promoted to full tradesman status again, with a commensurate increase in wages. Do you think that’ll cover our needs?"

Pandora laughed and hugged him. "More than enough. I’m glad that you were able to solve this problem so quickly."

"I’m lucky that the foxtaurs run their own communities without interference from the Greater North American government. I really didn’t want to have my presence here generally known outside of the village. I still don’t intend to go back to so-called civilisation. At least, not until I’m good and ready."

That reminded Pandora that he wasn’t bound to this place, and also brought back the latest developments raised by her visitors. "Speaking of running this community, I was visited by two council Elders while you were away."

"Oh? What did they want?"

"Apparently they got some complaints, you can speculate from who, about your presence here. They want you out of the village."

"What!? Just like that, they want to kick me out?"

"No, it’s just a preliminary thing, more a forewarning. The council would have to convene and rule that you be ordered to leave, and that would take some time. However, the complainants have clan tradition on their side which says that while visitors should be made welcome, they should not overstay that welcome. It’s a bit vague, I know, but it’s enough to get you on when you look like staying for so long. The flip side is that you made a lot of friends today, and they’re likely to side with you if you wish to stay."

"But there’s no guarantee?"

"No, there isn’t. In fact the odds are still stacked against you."

Karl looked sad. After being so excited again about his trade after so long, his hopes looked like being dashed.

Pandora came to a decision and said, "Karl, will you come walk with me?" She held out her hand.

"Okay. Where are we going?"

"You’ll see," she replied unhelpfully.

They walked to the side of the den that was opposite to the gardens. After several metres, they came to a side path that she turned into. The trail headed up the side of the valley, switching back and forth to make the climb easier as it got steeper. Eventually they passed over the rim of the valley and the path opened up to a wonderful view down its length and overlooking the village. Pandora picked her way between the low bushes until she reached a solid rock ledge.

"Come sit on the ledge with me, but watch out for the drop," she said.

He did as we asked, and she settled down next to him. The sun was lowering to their left and the sky beginning to redden, but the sunlight lined up with the valley so it was still well lit. The stream sparkled as it wound through the village and down through the valley. A sea of redwoods and cedars spread on either side of the village, unspoiled as far as the eye could see. Smoke from the fires of foxtaurs cooking their evening meals curled lazily up into the air and a gentle breeze blew enough of the smells to tantalise even the human’s poor sense of smell.

"Beautiful, isn’t it?" Pandora asked.

Karl nodded. "As pretty as one could hope from a potential new home. I’d hate to leave it."

"A lot of lovers come up here, especially at sunset. I think it inspires all of us at some time."

Karl thought about that for a bit, then said a bit hesitantly, "Are we lovers, Pandora?"

She looked at him with both hope and uncertainty. "I’m hoping we are that, and more. Karl, will you be my Denmate?"

Pandora’s proposal came as a surprise to Karl. Despite the events of the past few days, he had not seriously looked at their relationship. In fact he wasn’t sure if he was ready to have a steady relationship again. And yet, she was so sure, and it was the vixens who proposed when they knew they had the right potential mate. She had already made her decision, so what did he really want?

Watching his face, Pandora tried to read Karl’s emotions. She was getting better at reading human expressions, but she was still unsure of how he was leaning. She decided to argue her case.

"Karl, I’m not Isabel. Even if you had money or other assets, I wouldn’t want them. I don’t want to steal your business. I don’t want to rule your life. And even if it was possible for me to bear you a child, I would never take her away from you. I just want to love you and have you share my life. Do you want to spend yours with me? Can you love me back?"

Karl gazed longingly back at the vixentaur, but he still had some questions. "Can such two different species as us truly be Denmates?" he asked.

"I haven’t found any problem so far that we couldn’t overcome. We both like each other, and the sex has been great. We work together well, and we seem to fulfil each other’s needs. I see nothing physical, mental or spiritual that would hinder us becoming mates. And one more thing – as Denmates, the council could no longer throw you out of the village. All mates from outside the clan automatically have the right to stay as part of the clan once officially Denmated, and there’s nothing in the traditions that says that they have to be foxtaurs."

"I wouldn’t want to become Denmates just to stay in the village though."

"And I would not want you to. I want you to love me. I want us to make love as often as possible, and I want us to share the rest of our lives. I just would be happier knowing that you can stay without problems if you officially become my mate. I love you, Karl, with all my heart, so I ask you once again, will you be my Denmate?"

The emotion built up so much that Karl felt himself starting to be overwhelmed by it. Pandora was the opposite of Isabel in almost every way, and yet despite the fact that she was so different to him physically, she was right for him in every way that his ex-wife had been wrong. But was he ready yet to take another risk so soon? Pandora had known this, but her hand had been forced by the potential eviction. She was eager but sincere; he was tempted but afraid. Then she suddenly leaned forward and kissed him, human style. The kiss was long and passionate, but when their lips finally parted, it was as if all had been made clear to him at last.

"Yes, Pandora my love, I will be your Denmate."

She squealed with joy and hugged him fiercely, tears of happiness flooding from her eyes. Karl’s eyes were moist too as he enjoyed the closeness of the beautiful sexy vixen who would now be his mate.

They stayed close for a long time, watching the gorgeous sunset together. She had her muzzle resting lovingly on his right shoulder, one arm around his waist, the other stroking his chest. He laid his left hand on hers and stroked her foreleg softly. Pandora could hardly believe how much such a simple thing was arousing her.

Eventually as darkness began setting in, she said, "Let’s go home to our den, love. I’ll make us a special meal to celebrate."

"That sounds wonderful, dear. Only problem is that it’s gotten so dark, I can hardly see the way."

Pandora took Karl’s hand and drew him up. "My night vision is good, so I’ll show you the way safely. From now on, we’re a team, and we’ll get over all our problems together. My quest has truly ended."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
To be continued in Family Matters.

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