Fires of the Sea
Letting an arrow fly, Lady Marigold jumped down, out of arrow range, to watch. The arrow hit it's mark, and a stoat fell over, dead. The wildcat did not even stop to pick him up, only kicked him over to a mouse slave. "Bury him." snarled the wildcat. "Squirt! Keep an eye on the slave. Make her dig four graves. One for Batkret, one for this one..." the wildcat lord kicked the stoat over to the poor mouse. "One for Maridress, and one for that fox!" Squirt, a ferret, saluted the wildcat. "Aye, Lord Crught." Crught, snarling still, nodded. Lady Marigold, hidden behind the tree, ran off to tell Maple that Leaf was well and truly captured. "Imagine, having to dig graves for those vermin!” A snort made her turn around. There was Crught and a fox standing there. "You will be, too, squirrel!" snapped the fox. "Catch me, first!" challenged Marigold. Launching an arrow that killed the fox, Marigold fitted another arrow. She shot it and missed Crught. Hearing a shout, the wildcat lord turned away, snapping Marigold's arrow as he went. "I'll be back!" he snarled. "And I'll be ready!" snarled Marigold back. Sighing, she turned away, scrambled down the tree, and headed into the forest.
"Burr aye, Gonffee, hurr hurr. You'm a greet cookee."
Gonff flashed the mole a big grin. "Do ya really think Lady Maple'll like my cranberry pie?"
Dewlap, for that was the mole's name, grinned too. "Who doesn't?" asked the mole.
"Umm, let me think..." said Gonff, son of Gonff the thief.
"I can't think of anything!" sighed another voice behind him.
"Marigold!" cried Gonff. "What happened?!"
"I met the cat and his fighters. My gosh, the fox is stupid! He didn't even duck from my arrows!" Marigold sighed. "Is Leaf captured by the Crught cat?" asked Gonff, spitting the wildcat lord's name out angrily. "Yes." groaned Marigold. "Doas Ladee Maple know ret?" asked Dewlap through a mouthful of cranberry pie. "No. I'll tell her later, at the feast." Marigold groaned again. "Paws off, pieface!" Gonff snatched the pie away from Dewlap. "Tis good!" said Dewlap hopefully. "Not till the feast." said Gonff The mouse and the mole watched as Lady Marigold, sighing wearily, headed off to go tell Lady Maple that Leaf was captured by Crught. Meanwhile, in the bushes, Squirt continued to watch. I must have a satisfactory message for his Lord, thought the weasel. I must have a satisfactory message.
That night, at the feast, Lady Maple stood up and said some words. The badger Lady was frighteningly large, but gentle.
“Hello, and welcome to our Midsummer's Eve Feast. Though, if you think about it, what do we have to be celebrating?”
Before she could finish, an otter named Shagnan jumped up. “Well, we don't know if Lady Leaf is dead or not...”
Lady Marigold stood up too. Hissing angrily, she snapped, “Lady Maple was getting to that!”
Shagnan sat down again, abashed.
Nodding briefly at the squirrel, Lady Maple continued, “Lady Marigold was out today, gathering berries for our feast, in fact, when she ran across the wildcat Crught's camp- Lady Leaf is one of his slaves!”
There were gasps, especially from Shagnan.
Holding up a paw for silence, the badger Lady continued, “She is made to dig graves for vermin, now, and when they stop dieing, who knows what will happen to her? It is imperative that we get her out of there soon! Should you have any ideas or plans, come to visit me. And, now...” she said, raising her voice, “Let us begin our feast!”
As the animals settled down in to eat, there was a knock on the door. Lady Marigold opened it cautiously. “Yes?”
“Open up, all of us are ready for the feast!” called a high voice.
Puzzled, Lady Marigold opened the door. Standing there were three wildcats, an ancient badger, and a tall, warlike mouse.
“Martin the Warrior, is that REALLY you? And Bella? Oooo, is that Sir Gingivere and Lady Sandingomm? But who is that...?” Lady Marigold asked, looking pointedly at the third wildcat.
Gingivere smiled. “That is our son, Rovisine. He is four months tomorrow.”
Sandingomm puffed her fur out proudly. “My first!” she said.
“Pardon, but do you mind if we do this inside? The feast smells good...” Martin broke off, blushing.
Blushing as well at her rude manners, Lady Marigold stepped aside so that they could pass in. “Offf, course.” She said, curtsying.
The travelers needed no second bidding. Martin and Rovisine led the older wildcats in, and Bella stopped to talk to Lady Marigold.
“So, how's Leaf?” Bella asked, as the pair walked slowly through the Entrace Hall towards the Dining Room.
“Um, not that good, you see...” And Marigold related Lady Leaf's sad story to the motherly badger, who nodded and sniffed at all the right times.
That night, Brockhall held a counsel of war. Crught was dangerously close to Brockhall, and his horde of ten-score fighters were nothing to sneeze at. Bella opened the meeting.
“As you undoubtably know, our Lady Leaf has been captured by Lord Crught the Wildcat. Lady Marigold attempted to save her, but was forced to retreat. Crught, as you know, is the cousin to Tsarmina, his father having been Lord Ungatt Trunn. Ungatt was brother to Verdauga, so therefore Crught is also cousin to Gingevere and Sandingomm. Second-cousin or something like that to Rovisine anyway, so we have to take precautions that Crught knows this also. Therefore, Rovisine will be a natural target, also being a wildcat.
“I have come to the conclution that for the time being, the Greeneye's family will stay at Brockhall! However, when Crught finds that they are not at Gingevere's farm anymore, Lady Leaf will face immediate danger. In an attempt to draw us from hiding, he might even kill her. He now knows that we are watching him, in fact, he may even be watching us, and will quit using Leaf as a slave and instead use her as a captive. This way, we will be unable to get messages to her. Now that we agree on this, who has any plans?”
Gingevere raised his paw. “Is Chibb still around?”
Marigold raised her paw and knocked Gingevere's out of the air. “No. He took his chestnuts and left last spring.”
“Any more suggestions?”
Lady Amber came forward. “Marigold and I can take come archers and rescue her! And Martin or someone can cause a distraction, we'll sneak in, and bring 'er straight back, aye!”
Marigold came up and stood next to the middle-aged squirrel archer. “I'm with ye, Lady Amber, even to death!”
Bella smiled. “Good. Now what kind of distraction...”
The Brockhallers talked until well into the night, unaware that Brockhall was no longer a secret place- Squirt found himself racing back towards Crught's camp, unaware that another evil presence was hiding in a hole in front of him. “Asmodeussssssssssss!”