The Snowy Gnoll [Illustrated]
Each time a gnoll comes back to Riska's shop, she's been more and more changed by her adventures. Mature.
Riska stood high on her stool, looking over the small pile of treasure dumped onto her counter.
"And none of this is stolen?" she asked. The gnoll girl across the counter from Riska folded her arms across her chest. Riska felt it was a perfectly valid question to ask. When a gnoll in dark leather with more knives than she's got hands to hold them in walks into your pawn shop, you start thinking that maybe this girl is a bandit. It didn't help that she was skinnier than most gnolls, with a wiry frame that her tight armor accentuated.
"No, it's not," the gnoll said. There was a little huff in her voice. She was probably used to being accused of thievery. People didn't have high opinions of gnolls to begin with. Still, Riska thought, she did look like a thief.
The kobold shopkeeper drew a thin iron rod from behind her counter. She rolled out a strip of parchment and pulled over a pen and quill too. Riska had her share of prejudices too—most people wouldn't have expected a kobold to know how to write or do math, but when you loved gold, it was easy to learn how to keep track of it.
"Silver amulet, twenty crowns," she said, lifting the topmost item off the pile, passing it over the rod, and setting it down in front of the parchment. She picked up the quill and scratched down its price in ink. One by one, she worked through the items, passing each over the rod before estimating its worth and adding that to the ledger.
Meanwhile, the gnoll girl waited, shuffling quietly but paying attention to Riska's math. Both of them didn't quite trust the other, but it was the sort of gentle mistrust you could build a business transaction out of.
As she passed a thin silver circlet over her rod, the rod hummed and clattered against the table. Riska stopped, set the circlet down and kept going until she'd summed up everything else.
Riska held up the circlet. "All right, this is magic, and I can't do magic," she said. "If you go get someone to Identify this, I'll give you a fair price for whatever it's got. Or if you don't want to bother, I'll just say it's worth fifty percent extra."
The gnoll said, "Enchanted? I'll just keep it in that case. Might have something good on it. The other stuff's useless to me." She reached out for the circlet and Riska handed it back.
Riska finished up her calculations and scribbled the number down on the ledger. She passed the quill and ledger across the counter to the gnoll. "Just sign there, to show we agree on the price," Riska said.
While she counted out the gold coins, the gnoll leaned over the counter and signed her name. Riska hefted the stacks of coins up onto the counter and took the receipt back. "Ygrn?" the kobold said, suspiciously. "You do know how to write, right?"
"Yes, that's my name, and yes, I know how to write," Ygrn said. She dragged the coins into her coin purse, picked up the circlet, and walked out the pawn shop door with another annoyed huff.
'Little gnolls have even shorter tempers than big gnolls,' Riska thought.
The next time Ygrn came to her shop, Riska didn't recognize her right away. It had been a few months, but Riska had a good memory. The strange gnoll in a snowy-gray cloak and heavy pack didn't seem familiar until she'd come right up to the counter, pulled back her hood, and revealed the silver circlet she wore.
"Hey, you're…Ygrn, right?" Riska said. A moment of hesitation as she recalled that jumble of consonants.
Ygrn heaved her pack off of her back and dropped it on the counter with a grunt. "So you remember me," she said. She sounded pleased.
Riska did remember her. She remembered that Ygrn had a short, spiky mohawk, not the heavy mane of hair that Ygrn now had pulled back and tied down. Ygrn pushed her cloak off of her shoulders. The leather armor she wore was banded with steel studs and lined with small tufts of fur. It looked more layered and stiffer than the sleek, tight leather Ygrn had worn before.
"I didn't even know gnolls could grow winter coats," Riska said. Ygrn's fur looked shaggy, hanging in thick fluff off her neck and poking out of the gaps in her armor in tawny-grayish tufts.
Ygrn pulled her pack open. "I didn't think the world could get that cold, but I guess that's what mountains are like. And wouldn't you know it—" She tugged her old leather armor out of her pack. She had rolled it up tight to take up as little space as possible. "Outgrew my damn armor."
Riska pulled over Ygrn's old cuirass and greaves. She traced her claws around the clasps, searching for any signs of damage that might lower the price. Then she looked up at Ygrn again, reflecting on her memories of her. The gnoll was quite likely taller than before, though Riska wasn't sure. Everyone seemed tall when you were a kobold. Ygrn was definitely thicker across the shoulders though. Her armor had a tighter fit around her biceps and she wore a set of boots clinging snugly to her calves. Riska could only imagine the amount of mountain climbing, trail blazing, and digging through snow she had to have done to give herself such a heavy workout in just a few months.
Riska pulled out some parchment and started running down another ledger. Ygrn wandered around near the counter. She seemed drawn toward a tall sword, taller than Riska herself, on display in a weapon rack. It was the sort of plain, simple sword that felt so comfortable in your hands, you could stake your life on it. That's what the orc who'd sold it to Riska said. Riska saw that same feeling in Ygrn's eyes as the gnoll tested the sword's balance with a few broad swings.
Riska was almost done adding up all the numbers when Ygrn laid two of her daggers down on the counter, too.
"If I sell you those too, is that enough to get this?" She hefted the sword in front of Riska's eyes.
The daggers were sharp enough that the blade edge shone in the light and well-kept enough that they showed no scars or marks. They seemed more valuable and unique than just a well-made sword, but Riska wasn't going to argue taste with one of her customers.
"That'll cover it," Riska said. She finished up the ledger while Ygrn swung the sword a few more times, quicker and more deliberately. Riska didn't need to assume; she could see that Ygrn enjoyed the way it felt in her hands.
Ygrn scribbled her name on the ledger where Riska asked her to sign. The difference between the price of her loot and the cost of her new sword came out a few gold coins. Ygrn stuffed Riska's coins into a pouch before slinging the sword and its hilt around her chest and shoulders.
"Good doing business with you," Ygrn said amiably, flashing a smile as she left the shop.
Another few months had passed before Ygrn came back to the store. When she walked through the door, Riska recognized her immediately, but she was still surprised by Ygrn's appearance.
Ygrn strode in preceded by her chest: a pair of thick mounds and deep cleavage all encased in a broad steel breastplate. While her armor didn't try to wrap around each breast, it bulged out heavily in front, suggesting the shape size of her breasts. Rippling abs were worked into the steel running down her stomach, but Riska could just as easily imagine that the steel had been shaped around the gnoll's own bulky frame.
A fur-lined coat was clipped around the hyena's neck. The edges were pushed back behind two large steel pauldrons; they helped cover some of what her breastplate failed to with its deep neckline. Plates of fur-rimmed steel were strapped to her arms and legs, offering her some protection while trying to leave her tight-packed muscles room to flex and twist and stay mobile.
Ygrn had wide hips and enough of a bust to entirely fill out the broad-chested armor she wore, but with her wide shoulders and strong, bulky midsection, she had little of an hourglass shape.. Her fur spilled out of the spaces in her armor, thick and almost icy gray, like the color had been leeching out of her coat. A tuft of fur stuck out from between her breasts, another just poking above the waistband of her armor.
Her mane was still pulled back, but now she had twisted it into a pair of double braids, running back along her scalp and spilling down along her back. As she approached the counter, Riska spotted a nose ring hanging from the middle of Ygrn's nose. Her lower lip was plumper, adding a small, natural frown to her expression.
"Ygrn?" Riska said, almost tentative. "You look…"
"This shit?" the hyena groaned, flicking at her nose ring. "Yeah, I know. Got captured." Her voice was rough and had a lazy, uncultured drawl to it.
"What?" Riska asked, more surprised than anything.
Riska began unloading her hide sack onto the shelf, laying out steel weapons and silver jewelry. "Big tribe 'a wolves, grabbed me outta nowhere. Big bearded wolf chained me up an' shoved this through my nose. Started draggin' me around on a rope, sayin' I was their slave. Ya know I wasn't gonna take that for long. First chance I got, snapped the rope an' made sure to make 'em pay. Like the armor?" she asked, leaning on the counter, raising an arm to flex it for Riska to see.
"Looks like a barbarian's," Riska said, thinking economically about what the armor would be worth.
"Yer right. The barbarian alpha bitch was wearin' this till I got done with her. Now she don't need it."
Riska's detect magic rod began to rattle, but it was away beneath the counter, below where Ygrn was leaning. Riska nudged it to the side with her foot, so it stopped going off.
Ygrn's haul this time was mostly mundane jewelry and arms, things that a tribe of barbarians might have owned before they tried to enslave the wrong gnoll. Riska ran up the ledger for Ygrn's spoils of battle, and then then gave the quill over for the hyena to sign it. She scratched in 'YG', which was good enough for Riska. As long as it was something, it counted as a signature.
Riska counted up the coins and passed them to Ygrn. She took the coins that Riska gave her and smirked, then poured them down her cleavage. She grasped the edge of her breastplate and gave it a few shakes to make the coins clatter.
"Damn, I love havin' tits. Ya should try it sometime, maybe get yerself a boob enchantment," Ygrn said, hand on her hip, bumping her ass against the counter. "If yer tits were big like mine, I think ya'd be pretty hot." She proudly ruffled her chest tuft of excess fur.
"See ya again sometime," Ygrn growled, shaking out her braids as she turned and left.
The fourth time Ygrn came to Riska's shop, she had to duck under the door. Riska was in the back, running down some accounting, but when the heavy footsteps shook the floor, she rushed out to the counter to be greeted by a snowy-furred gnoll.
Riska wasn't sure where to look first, so she started right in front of her eyes. Standing on her stool put her eye level with Ygrn's chest, wrapped up in a strapless fur-lined top. It left practically her entire chest open, allowing her overgrown winter chest fur to spill out on top of her heavy breasts and pour down into her cleavage. Each breast alone was easily larger than Riska's head. Armor like that could only be doing do so much to protect Ygrn.
Around her waist she had buckled a belted fur loincloth. A large silver wolf's-head crest was mounted right in the middle. The hair rising up from her crotch fell down on top of the loincloth and clung to the underside of her belly, a thick white shaggy tuft that reached up to her bellybutton. A glint of a bellybutton piercing glittered from deep behind her white fur.
Riska continued to move her eyes down over Ygrn's body. Furry boots were belted around Ygrn's thighs, thick with long fur that nearly dragged along the ground. The only other clothes on her body were fur-lined bracers around her upper arms, which looked as if they were strained nearly to the breaking point. Her shoulders and biceps were free to flex and ripple.
A pair of tusks jutted from her lower jaw and stuck up on either side of her muzzle. They were only a few inches long, but intimidating nonetheless. The tusks also pushed her lip out further, curling it into a heavier snarl and making it bulge around the thick, overgrown canines. She had swapped her nose ring for a thicker, more eye-catching one. Two scars stretched from her brow down to the base of her muzzle, as if they were pulling her face into a permanent scowl. Her blonde mane was tied back in thicker braids, spilling down her shoulders and back. Her hair would have been absolutely unruly if she hadn't kept it braided down. Bits of bone and silver jewelry hung from her ears and brow, decorating her face in white and grey.
"Here's yer loot," Ygrn growled, dropping a sack onto the counter. She grinned around her tusks at Riska. Riska tugged the bag open and started going through the contents. She glanced warily up at Ygrn every so often. The huge gnoll had her chest puffed out proudly, pulling her fur top tight. Riska didn't think the gnoll was going to attack her, but with such a savage appearance, she wouldn't push her luck.
Riska grimaced slightly as she pulled out a blood-flecked gold amulet. "I'm going to have to deduct a cleaning fee…" she began to say. Ygrn's expression soured and she leaned forward, putting her weight on the counter until it began to creak. "…but you've got a repeat customer discount, so it cancels out!" Riska finished. Ygrn picked herself up off the counter.
As Riska passed some rings over her detect magic rod, it began to rumble. She looked up at Ygrn, and before she could even ask what the gnoll wanted to do with them, she had let out a gruff snort.
"Just take 'um. I got me some good magic rings already. Yuh wanna see how I wear 'um?" she asked. Ygrn wiggled her fingers; there wasn't a single ring on them. She reached up, grabbed the edge of her top, and tugged it up. She'd taken two gold rings and used them to pierce her nipples. They stood out against her dark flesh, glistening slightly in the light, tight enough that just a little motion could get her nipples hard.. "This'n's, uh, whadda yuh call… stoneskin and this'n makes it easy ta hit stuff," she said. She cupped her right breast and flicked the nipple ring with her claw, then did the same with her left breast
As she dropped her top back down, she broke out into a loud cackle, seeing Riska's surprised, blushing face. With her cheeks still hot, Riska bent down over her ledger and finished off the last entries.
"Here you go, just sign it," she said, passing the gnoll the ledger and collecting up the coin to give to her. As she handed over the stack of gold, she took a look down at the ledger, with a big, uneven X where she'd asked Ygrn to put her name. As long as there was something there, it was good enough.
"Thanks, yuh little dragg'n thing," Ygrn grunted. "If yuh wanna get fucked good n' hard I'm stayin' up thuh road. I kin fuck bitches' brains out," she said. She leaned in close and stuck out her tongue--it was long and thick and curled invitingly at the tip.
"Maybe another time," Riska said. It took her whole willpower to keep from scuttling away from the gnoll nearly twice her size.
Ygrn made a good-natured snarl. "Fatten up yur tits while yu'rr at it. Bitches with big tits is bettur," she said. With a chuckling snort, she grabbed the gold and strutted out of Riska's shop.
Riska watched the great big gnoll beast as she left. It wasn't her place to pry into her customers' private lives, so she wasn't going to ask questions. She was, however, going to have everything Ygrn brought in double-checked. She did want to keep things safe for her customers to buy, no matter how much of a barbarian they were.
Image credit: Volkenfox