Alma walks into Syro’s basement workshop with the Bunnies following close behind. While Sage looks around in fascination at the numerous gadgets and models that cover the workbenches and effectively crowd the whole room, Rosemary cringes slightly and tries to hide herself behind the much more courageous Cherry and Mayumi. The three younger Bunnies spread out around the room, a look of slight incomprehension on their faces.
“Excuse me, Syro?” Alma calls out.
Syro, who is currently standing with his back turned to Alma, leans over a yet-unidentifiable metallic object, banging on it with a wrench to cries along the line of “Why won’t you work you stupid little...?!” His head shoots up as Alma’s words register with him. He turns to face the goddess, removing his goggles and smiling apologetically.
“Oh, it’s you again! Alma, right?” He pulls out a grubby cloth from some unseen recess and wipes his hands on it before extending a friendly hand to Alma.
“Yes,” Alma replies, gently shaking his hand.
“So, what brings you to my humble workshop? Please don’t touch that,” he says swiftly as one of the as-yet-nameless younger Bunnies, the female, stretches a hand to touch a delicate model of what seems to be an overcomplicated spoon. She flinches back nervously, knocking down the model, which crashes to the floor in a cacophonous mix of shattering glass and grinding gears. The sudden release of pressure on a spring causes the model to lash into spasmodic motion, tearing itself apart as it skitters across the floor, making the young Bunny leap into Alma's arms. As it winds down, a smell of burnt oil rising from it, the remaining gears emit a death rattle, punctuated by a sad little SPROING.
“Oh, I am so sorry, Syro,” Alma rushes to say, putting the rather panicky-looking Bunny gently down on the floor.
“It is of no consequence, I assure you,” Syro replies, motioning both goddess and Bunny to leave the wreck where it lies. Rubbing the back of his head, he looks around and adds, “I’m sure I have the sketches for that piece somewhere around here…”
“Please, little ones, do not touch anything,” Alma tells the Bunnies. Turning back to Syro, she says, “Again, I am sorry for the model, Syron. However, I bring you a small challenge that I hope you are not too busy to undertake.”
“Oh, not at all. I love challenges,” Syro replies absentmindedly, looking at the each of the Bunnies as if committing every single detail on them to memory. “Are these the Bunnies you mentioned?”
“Yes, Syro. These are the Bunnies. As you can see, they are somewhat different from what you are used to.”
“Oh, that is so very true!” Syro exclaims, walking to the door and sticking his head out. “Hey, Nataniel!” he calls out. “Come see the Bunnies!”
A short moment after, Nataniel comes walking into the workshop.
“Buenos dias, Señorita Alma!” he greets as soon as he sees the goddess standing just beyond the door. “So, let us see these Bunnies you speak–” He suddenly goes silent, his jaw dropping in awe at the sight of the Bunnies, spread around the room inspecting all those wonderful new things.
“Good morning, Nataniel,” Alma greets him back, smiling softly at the physician’s look of fascination.
Silence fills the room as both mortals watch the Bunnies walking around, themselves awed into speechlessness, staring at everything and nothing, marvelling over Syro’s amazing sketches and models. Little things, simple things like a dead leaf or a bird’s feather, become objects of wonder when seen through the inventor’s eyes.
“So, what does this challenge entail?” Syro intervenes, breaking the silence.
“The Bunnies need shoes, Syro,” the goddess explains.
“Oh, I can see how it could be difficult to find shoes for those feet,” Syro notes as he begins to walk around the room, following the Bunnies to see the movements their feet make while walking and standing still. “It’s not so immediately noticeable, but they are rather longer and narrower than human feet. Do you mind if we use that examination chair of yours, Doc?” He asks, turning to Nataniel. “I’m going to need to take some measurements.”
The question seems to pull Nataniel away from his daydream.“Uh... Sure. Please.”
“Thank you, gentlemen,” Alma says, bowing her head slightly in appreciation. Turning to the Bunnies, she says. “Come, little ones.”
As the Bunnies walk by him on their way to his office, Nataniel takes the chance to pet each one on the head, touching their hair and brushing his hand against their ears, almost as if he were trying to make sure they’re real.
“Que maravilla...” he whispers in wonder. “So perfect...”
“I often think the same thing,” Alma whispers to him with a smile as she walks by him, after the Bunnies.
Nataniel smiles in return and follows them, entering his office to see the Bunnies gathering around the examination chair, looking uneasy. Syro stands behind the chair, armed with one of his trademark “Now-This-Is-a-Proper-Scale” measuring tapes.
“So, who goes first?” the inventor asks.
“Merri can go first!” Cherry replies almost immediately, pushing Rosemary into the chair with a sudden movement and a naughty giggle.
“Cherry!” Rosemary complains, twisting uncomfortably in the chair.
“It is quite alright, Rosemary,” Alma assures her, walking over to the Bunny and placing a hand on her head to pet her. “Syro will just be taking a few measurements, nothing to be afraid of.”
Rosemary closes her eyes and enjoys the little moment of tenderness, settling down with a whispered word. “‘kay...”
“Sit back, please,” Syro requests of her. “Thank you.” Taking the opportunity to have a closer look of the Bunny, he spends some time looking at her, examining her arms and legs, her eyes and ears. “Amazing...” he mutters, palpating Rosemary’s furry ears. “How did you get over the cartilage undergrowth problem?” he asks, turning to Alma.
“Excuse me?” the goddess replies in confusion.
“And the whole problem with the fused metacarpals?” The inventor looks at the Bunny’s bare feet. “That always had me grasping at straws!”
“I really never did give that issue much thought, I confess,” Alma concedes.
Restless from all the attention being paid to her various body parts, Rosemary begins to squirm in the chair, eager to escape the impromptu examination. Alma’s gentle touch on her head settles her down for a moment, but soon the Bunny’s expression contracts into a grin and Rosemary bursts out laughing, kicking with her feet in uncontrolled laughter.
“Miss, please, I really need you to stay still for a moment,” Syro tells her as he places the measuring tape against the sole of her foot and tries to measure the total length of her right foot.
“I can’t!” Rosemary cries as her ticklish body convulses.
“Rosemary...” Alma admonishes her softly.
“It tickles!” the Bunny complains.
“Here, Señorita,” Nataniel intervenes, crouching by Rosemary. “I will help. What is your name?” the good doctor asks with a smile.
“Nice to meet you, Rosamaria. My name is Nataniel.”
“Rou-sa-mah-ria...” Rosemary repeats, trying out the Nataniel’s strange way to pronounce her name. “Ooooh, I like that!” she exclaims with a contented giggle.
“I will just hold your foot steady, yes?” Nataniel explains, holding Rosemary’s leg by the ankle and placing the other hand lightly under her toes, so that the bunny can rest her foot in a better position for Syro to work on it. “So that Syro can take his measurements.”
“Go ahead!” Rosemary replies, regaining control over herself and relaxing her foot under Nataniel’s touch.
The physician offers the Bunny a reassuring smile while Syro works away, envisioning the perfect pair of shoes.