The ragged caracal stumbled through the woodland. He was tall and thin and his eyes were gaunt and sunken, he wore a torn tunic of dark grey and his sword, the only untarnished thing about his appearance, hung loosely at his side. The cat's chest heaved with the effort of movement as he kept on. He finally collapsed against a tree. Looking back the way he had come, memories sprang unbidden to his mind. A raccoon and a aye-aye being overwhelmed by vermin, a red panda dueling with a large black figure and a huge bird crashing through a window, talons outstretched. The caracal shook his head, got to his feet and pressed on, away from the death and misery he had left behind.
PART I: MOSSFLOWEREdit
The goodship Halofin was a warming sight as it lay at anchor in the middle of the sea. At the centre of the deck a glow enemated from a merry fire and strains of song could be heard about it. On the top of a rock spire nearby a water opossum lay watching it, another voice called up in a loud whisper "What can you see Trathur? Are there any warriors onboard?"
"Not that I can tell" replied Trathur "as far as I can see they're all dancing around a fire in the middle of the deck"
"So should we attack or not?"
"Go ahead brother" Trathur started to climb back down as the other opossum climbed across from the spire onto the ship hidden behind it, The Seawraith. When he had climbed over the edge a large grey cat addressed him "Well Barbas, what does your brother have to say on the matter of this ship?"
"He says that as far as he can tell they're not warriors and that they're having a huge celebration with a fire"
"A fire eh? One good ram should knock whatever is making it over then as the ship burns we'll smash it to pieces and collect whatever survivors there are"
"Yes captain, any particular orders I should give?"
"Trang is a fair shot with a bow isn't he? Tell him to pick off any lookouts"
"Yes captain" Barbas Asmim strode across the deck to where a stoat lay by the mast "You're wanted Trang" he said to the stoat
"The captain wants you to take a bow and arrows up to the top of that rock and take out any lookouts that there may be"
"Alright then" The stoat got up and walked off. As he prepared to leave, Barbas noticed a large rat whispering with a group of other creatures "What are you whispering about Gorkar?"
The rat glared at him "None of your business Asmim!"
"I do believe that everything that goes on onboard this ship is my business, I am the first mate"
"No one cares about rank Barbas, go and bother some other beasts will ye?"
"No I won't, we'll be taking slaves from that ship once we've rammed it and I want you and your cronies to pick out the survivors"
"We'll do our bit possum"
Barbas gritted his teeth "I'm not a possum Gorkar, I'm an opossum, there is a difference you know!"
"I'll be blowed if I can find it"
"Well you see, a possum is usually smaller than an opossum, the only exception being the common bu-"
"Yeah, yeah we know all that, can't ye recernize a jibe when ye hear one?"
Barbas kicked him hard in the back of the head and walked off back along the deck.