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Prologue Edit

Lord Snowstripe picked up his scrolls and headed into the Great Hall. If there was anything he had inherited from his father, Russano the Wise, it was his ability to tell a tale. He remembered when he was very young, his father would tell everyone the tales of Lord Brocktree and Boar the Fighter. But now he was the Ruler of Salamandastron, and it was his turn. As he sat down in the huge badger armchair, he noticed that his sister, Lady Melanius, had already gathered everyone into the room. Clearing his throat, he began: "Thank you. Now the story I have prepared for you took place long ago, before my father, Russano, ruled this mountain, and-" He was interrupted my little baby Brindine. "Are there vermin in this story, Mista Snowstripe?" She asked. He answered quickly. "Well, of course there are, little Brindine. Now-" He was interrupted again by Brigadier Fowlshot. Is there any scoff in this story? 'Cuz I'm flippin' hungry!" The badger lord was confused for a moment, but then remembered that the hare had not eaten lunch today. "Well, I suppose there is. Anyway,-" he was interrupted yet again by Galloper Swiftscut. "Is the Long Patrol in this one, M'Lud?" He asked. Not wanting to waste any more time, he quickly answered. "No for it was not founded yet. Now all the questions will be answered if you let me tell the story. And if not, save them for later. Now, this took place before Brocktree, and even before Lord Stonepaw. This is a tale of youth, despite it's age, and is a tale of alliances. Now it goes something like this.........."

Book One: The Fleet Edit

Chapter One Edit

"Slow down now, Gorse." Ceteruler warned her.The badgermaid gave him a flash of annoyance. The two walked into the mountain. She dropped her quiver for her lances, spears, and javelins on the floor. Although her father often did worry too much about her, she knew he only meant it for the best. After all, he did have a right to worry about her, as he did a right to everyone in the mountain of Salamandastron, being its Badger Lord. As she was about to find her good friend Patchpaw, her father caught up with her. “I’m sorry for worrying about you so much back there, but I feel a need to after all, I am your father. Do you understand?” Gorse quickly nodded her head. “Now, how about we see your mother? I believe she’s in the kitchen helping Aunt Berchy. Come on, now.” Gorse’s mother, Clea, was a very pretty badger. She liked to think that she looked a bit like her. As they walked in the many corridors, they were soon stopped by Starbright. He was a seasoned hare, having been in the mountain’s forces for countless seasons. “M’Lud, we just finished our patrol of the outer perimeter. I’ve relieved some of our sentries, put up new ones, and just organized another patrol of the inner perimeter.” he said briskly. “Good job, Starbright. Tell them I’ll join their patrol in just a moment.” The hare marched off smartly with his blackthorn stick. As Gorse and her father continued down the hallways of the mountain, they finally reached the kitchens. Sure enough, Clea was there, washing a bowl. “Gorse! It’s so good to see you! And your father too! My entire family is here, and I’m here working in the kitchens. I’m afraid washing these bowls will have to wait, I do hope Berchy will understand.” she said with a worried look on her face. Although she couldn’t help herself but admire her mother’s humble nature, Gorse thought that sometimes her mother forgot that she was the Badger Lady of Salamandastron. While her mother and father were talking, Gorse sneaked off out of the kitchen to find her friend Patchpaw. He was a lean, young hare, and was unusually white with black patches. As she rounded a corner, she bumped into Buckeye, the best archer at Salamandastron. He was huge, and very friendly, except when it came to vermin. With vermin, Buckeye was merciless. “Well, hello there, Buckeye. Have you seen Patchpaw anywhere?” she asked. “Yes,” he replied, “yes I have. He’s in the fireplace room, in an armchair, shining his dirk. Could you tell him to cut it out? With all that bally squeakin’ he’s doin’, nobody can be at peace. If I told him, he’d find a way to talk back. Why you’re friends with that cheeky little varmint, I don’t know.” “Oh, I see. I’ll get him to stop right away. Thank you, Buckeye.” she said quickly, trying to get away from the conversation. She ran off, into the fireplace room, where she learned about all the dreadful squeaking. As she walked to Patchpaw’s armchair, he looked up, smiling, completely oblivious to the annoyance he caused. “Well, hello there, Gorse m’gel, I barely noticed you came in. As you can see, I’m tryin’ to get the bally dust of me fine dirk.” he said happily. “Patchpaw, you fool,” Gorse said sternly, “are you completely unaware of the disturbance you’ve caused?! Stop shining your blade this instant!!” “I’m hurt, Gorse,” said the hare. “you know bally well that whenever I’m focusin’ on somethin’, I can’t notice anythin’ else until I’ve finished the task! I’ll put it away this time, but just don’t expect any presents any time soon!” After a while of silence, the two burst into laughter. “And to think we were mad at eachother!” Patchpaw said through chuckles. “Oh, I’m sorry for getting so rash with you, but I can’t believe you didn’t even know you were an annoyance!” Gorse laughed as she pulled her friend’s ears. Yes, this was the life, your friends close, enemies far away, and a sunny day to enjoy.

Chapter Two Edit

Spathar looked out at the mountain through his telescope. He was the proud leader of The Fleet of the Claw. Although it only consisted of three ships, the Claw, the Talon, and the Fang, he conquered many lands with these three ships. And whenever he set his eye on something, he would kill anyone, and do anything to get it. And now he had set his eye on this mountain. His father had told him about it, calling it the Mountain of the Fire Lizard. He was no fool, he knew many tactics on conquering, and he could pick out anybeast that would most likely rebel or stab him in the back. But he knew which of them to give the axe and which not to. His father had told him that these were things only wildcats like him could do. He hated his father. He didn’t always, it’s just that when his mother died, his father left him and married again. And he had a half-brother from that marriage, Mortspear his father named him. Now, Mortspear would inherit his castle and his father’s empire when the time came. But Spathar would make his own empire, get his own fortress, and when the time came, would destroy his father’s puny empire. He had picked two other beasts to captain the two other ships in his fleet besides the Claw: the stoat Corsayr, who would do anything asked of him, captaining the Talon and the former corsair fox Mace, whom he had spared after killing the fox’s captain and entire crew. He captained the Fang. But knowledge of rebels was not important now. What was was food. The rations the crews had collected were growing old, and the weasels, stoats, ferrets, rats, and foxes that made up his crew made for poor fishingbeasts. Grekk the ermine was the leader of the fishing party, and he and the group had only caught a few mussels and a dying shark with the net. Spathar walked up to the ermine, who at the moment was struggling to open a clam. He pulled Grekk away from the group. “Any luck, Grekk?” he said in a mocking voice. The thick-headed ermine couldn’t understand the reddish-brown wildcat’s tone. “Uh, no sir. Those bumbling fools I work with couldn’t catch a fish if it jumped into their paws.” Spathar pulled him close and dug his claws into the ermine’s shoulder. “Listen here, Grekk,” he whispered. “Who’s in charge of the fishing?” Grekk tried to answer, but the pain was too much. Spathar didn’t wait for an answer. “You, of course. Now you’re responsible for them right? And when they bring that net up with nothing in it, you’re responsible for it, right? You better catch something to feed us all, or I’ll cast you down there in that net, myself.” He released the ermine and Grekk started to breathe again. He limped back to the group. Spathar, pleased with himself, decided to talk to Gramver, an old searat who had been corsairing long before the wildcat was even born. Although he was wise, the rat was a tad too sympathetic, and was often suggesting taking enemies prisoner. He also was taking care of Ripfang, the little brat who always was annoying the crew. From what he heard, Ripfang was Gramver’s grandson, and the old rat couldn’t help but adopt the tiny babe when its parent’s died. “Why hello, master Spathar, lovely day today, isn’t it?” the elderly rat had a jolly tone, as he usually did. “I suppose so, Gramver, but I’ve got a question for you.” the wildcat answered. “Well then ask away, me friend.” He didn’t like his crew calling him friend, but it was the first time anyone called him that. “Well, if I was to conquer this mountain, what tactic do you suppose I would use?” he asked. “Well,” the old rat answered, “I would send out a third of my forces to find a way into the mountain, and then, when they found a way, send a member of that group to tell me. From there I would go with the rest of the crew to conquer it.” If the rat was to say more, he wouldn’t have a chance to, because Spathar had lost interest and the little brat Ripfang had come wailing to his grandfather. “Grampa, grampa, I was watching the big beasts work, an’ they yelled at me, an’ I fell down! Waaaaah!” “Well, come with me liddle un, an’ I’ll give those big bullies a piece o’ my mind!” He picked up the bawling ratbabe and walked off with it. All alone he listened to the distant crashing waves, until they were interrupted by grunting and wheezing on the port side of the Claw. He looked that direction and saw that Grekk and all of the fishing party were hauling up the net, which was almost bursting with shrimp. Ah, shrimp! That was something he had not tasted since he was very young in the dining hall of his father’s castle. It would taste good on his dry tongue. He saw them lumber over into the center of the deck, and just stand there. “Well what are waiting for?” he growled. “Empty it out!” As the tons of shrimp poured down onto the deck, he called for his captains. They both knew what to do. They both grabbed pawfuls of shrimp, and walked away. He did the same, except for he grabbed two times the amount his captains grabbed. Sorting his shrimp into a pile, he turned around and noticed that all of his crew was standing around and waiting for his word. One unfortunate weasel tripped and fell inches away from the pile. Spathar, although knowing what happened, unsheathed his longsword and whipped the poor weasel with the flat of his blade, sending it whimpering into the mass of corsairs. “You may eat!” His crew dove into the pile, gorging themselves. The smallest were trampled, and the biggest ate their fill. Only one beast did not lunge into the pile. It was the marten Patcheye. He knew he would get hurt if he ate first. he knew that there always would be a little food left for him to eat. He knew that at any moment, he could rebel against his leader. But he didn’t. because he was no fool, and he knew that he would face death for attempting to kill his leader, and it would be much easier to sit back and do what he was told. It may not have been pleasant work he did, but it had it’s benefits. As his captains were about to return to their ships, Spathar called to them. Neither wanting to get on his bad side, the fox and the stoat scurried over to hear what their leader had to say. As they reached their leader, the wildcat spoke. “Alright, you two. I’ve got a plan.” the wildcat lied. he knew that the plan he got actually came from Gramver, but he was sure the old searat wouldn’t care. “The plan only for now, involves you, Corsayr. but Mace, you’ll need to hear this too. Corsayr, I want you to take the Talon and attack the mountain as a cover. The beasts inside the mountain wouldn’t come outside to fight you, because you’ll be too small a group. While you’re attacking the mountain, try to find a way inside, like a secret door or whatever. Take everybeast on the Talon and two others with you. Those two beasts can be from either the Claw or the Fang. I want you to go tonight. Take nine days rations with you, sixteen at the most. Pick one beast to give word to me once you’ve made or found an opening. From there the Fang and the Claw will come help you get inside and take the mountain. But until then, you’re in charge of the crew you take. Think you can handle that, Corsayr?” “Yes, master.” said the thin stoat. “You can count on me!”

Chapter Three Edit

As the sun’s light started to weaken, Gorse and Patchpaw headed for the Great Hall. As usual, Clea and Ceteruler were there, as was Starbright and Sweedle, his wife. Gorse took a seat across from her mother, to the right of her father. Patchpaw took a seat by Starbright, who didn’t say anything, but you could tell that he would much have the young hare sit somewhere else. As the haremaid Elda and the harenurse Daphne aided the elders into their seats, Aunt Berchy peeked over the corner. whenever the head cook would do that, they all would know she was ready with the food. Patchpaw impatiently waited for the food to arrive. As he was a hare, and a young one at that, he could barely stop himself from running off and raiding the pantry. Starbright and the older, more venerable hares were calm and collected, and couldn’t stand watching Patchpaw as he squirmed and bounced in his chair. As he began to, for the third time, get up and straighten out the cushion on his chair, he immediately sat back down as the familiar rolling sound of the food carts came into the Great Hall. The carts full of tarts, soups, salads, trifles, mushrooms, pies, and all kinds of cordials, ciders, and ales were almost too much for Patchpaw and his appetite. The cooks placed food on the long oak table. First, starting with “The Lord’s End”, or the end that Gorse, Ceteruler, and Clea were on, then individually serving the members of the mountain’s forces and the elders, and finally, the cooks placed food on their designated seats. When everyone was finished serving and filling their mugs and glasses, Ceteruler stood up and said in his loud, booming voice: “Good evening, everyone. I hope you’re all hungry, because there is plenty more in our pantry where this came from. We can thank our foraging parties for that. As we all know, today is a very special day. Tonight there will be a full moon, and that will mean the eighteenth moon of my time as Badger Lord will have officially begun!” Gorse couldn’t believe that her father had been Badger Lord of Salamandastron for that long. When she was born, her father had only been ruling the mountain for six seasons. Now she was fourteen seasons, and all the elder hares of the mountain were saying that she was growing more and more like her mother every day. She served herself some cucumber salad and a cup of raspberry cordial. As she ate, she noticed Patchpaw challenging Buckeye to a trifle eating contest while gulping down a large mug of Black Ale. After Buckeye told him he could eat more trifle in an hour than he could eat in a lifetime, the young hare turned around and challenged Ceteruler to the same contest. Never, in her lifetime, had anyone ever challenged her father, Lord Ceteruler the Just, for anything, let alone a trifle eating contest. Gorse couldn’t even imagine her father doing something so ridiculous. She sipped her glass, waiting for her father’s response. To her surprise, he accepted! As both contestants filled their bowls with the dessert, Starbright took a few more bowls and placed them next to Patchpaw, and Clea did the same by Ceteruler. Buckeye jumped up onto the table, almost knocking over somebeast’s plate stacked with turnovers and pasties. In a loud, announcing voice, Buckeye acted as if he was a referee in a boxing match. “Welcome, everybeast!” the huge hare boomed, “Two champion scoffers, one young and one old, have come to clash today as we have a new question: who will rule the mountain as Head Scoffer of Salamandastron? On this side of th’ table, we have the young caketopper walloper Patchpaw the Challenger! And on this other side of this flippin’ long table,-” Buckeye almost tripped over a bowl of cucumber salad and knocked a mug of Black Ale off the table. “Oof! Watch where you put your bally scoff n’ drink, wot wot! Anywho, on this side of th’ table, we got the Badger Lord of Salamandastron, Ceteruler the Scoffer! He is the present Head Scoffer at this ol’ joint, but will he last? That’s the question we’re gonna get answered at this contest! Now here are the rules o’ this contest: One, you may not distract one another durin’ the contest. There are no restarts, who wins wins. An’ the score is not as determined by the number o’ bowls you finish, but how much was in the bowl an’ it’s size. Then we count the number o’ bowls you finish. And, you cannot start another bowl o’ trifle until you’ve finished the prior bowl. And no hittin’ the flippin’ referee with a bowl o’ trifle!” Gorse turnedand saw what he was talking about: Patchpaw was aiming a good-sized bowl of the dessert at the huge hare. “Alright, ready on both sides?” Buckeye asked. “Ready, set, scoff!” Patchpaw dove into his bowl, attacking it with two spoons at once. Ceteruler took a huge spoon normally used for serving, and scooped up trifle, spoonful after spoonful. Before she could even notice, Patchpaw was on his fourth bowl and Ceteruler was on his third and one-fourth. AS Ceteruler soon grabbed a spoon that Gorse hadn’t used and continued digging into the dessert with the large spoon and small spoon. As he finally finished the third bowl Clea handed him a large bowl worth at least two bowls. Patchpaw added his fourth bowl to his pile only to be stopped by Buckeye, who, while biting into tart, stopped him through a full mouth, saying: “Uh uh uh, there’th sthill trifle in that bowl!” As Patchpaw quickly tried to finish the little that was left in the fourth bowl, Ceteruler scooped up a mouthful with the larger spoon, finishing his fourth bowl in a gulp. He placed it in his pile as Patchpaw illegally attempted to start two bowls at the same time. But once again was foiled by Buckeye, who snatched a took his spoon and started eating it himself. As Gorse looked at her friend’s frustration at losing his chance at victory, she realized she would never be found doing anything like what her best friend and her father were doing right now. Just thinking about it made her sick. As she was about to take a drink from her glass, she realized it was empty. After returning from refilling the glass with cordial she asked her mother what the score was, knowing her father couldn’t tell her while constantly eating trifle. “It’s nine to eleven now, but your father is just about done with this bowl. Oh, now he’s done.” Clea said to her daughter as she gave Ceteruler another bowl while taking his finished bowl. Ceteruler quickly wolfed down almost a fourth of the bowl he just got as Patchpaw got his twelfth. He started eating it quickly but Gorse noticed he seemed to be getting a bit dizzy and didn’t look well. He almost fell over off his chair and Ceteruler suddenly finished his tenth and was moving on to his eleventh. She was looking at her father when she heard a thump. Patchpaw fell onto the floor and Ceteruler, seeing his chance, wolfed down his eleventh bowl and started his twelfth. Patchpaw suddenly came to and scrambled back onto his chair and continued eating his twelfth bowl but Ceteruler was almost done already. Patchpaw ceased using spoons altogether and started to eat with his mouth only. Ceteruler turned his bowl upside-down and started scooping the dessert into his mouth. In a few moments, Ceteruler was on his thirteenth bowl. Patchpaw kept on scrambling and was almost done when he moaned “I give up! I’m gonna die to all this flippin’ scoff in my stomach! Ooooh..” Ceteruler, victorious, swiftly finished the thirteenth bowl and leaned back in his chair. Buckeye walked over and congratulated him. “And Ceteruler earns the title of Head Scoffer of Salamandastron once again!” Gorse walked over and hugged her father. She turned and saw Patchpaw having to be carried away to bed. Ceteruler triumphantly called after him, saying, “You see? This is what happens when little ones eat too much dessert!”

Chapter Four Edit

The two other beasts Corsayr took with him were Werefo the weasel archer and Grimtooth the ferret. Both were from the Fang. Mace would not have easily parted with the two if Spathar hadn’t told him he could take two beasts with. As the Talon moved out towards the Mountain of the Fire Lizard, a rat spoke up. “Why do we have t’go to th’ mountain by ourselves? It would be much easier if th’ rest came too. And why did Spathar leave you in charge?” Corsayr recognized this voice right away as Chibbo’s. The river rat was always wanting answers, most of them none of his beeswax. But that didn’t stop him from asking. This time Corsayr would give him answers. “Well, Chibbo,” the stoat captain said sarcastically, “We have t’go to th’ mountain by ourselves ‘cause th’ enemy would know how many we ‘ave in all. And as to why Spathar left me in charge is ‘cause I’m the captain o’ this ship, I’m his most trustworthy crewmember an’ until Spathar gets here, I’m in charge o’ this lot. Unnerstand, rat?” The river rat was still angry about having to do all the extra work of getting to the mountain, but he didn’t ask any more questions. Grimtooth acted as best he could to be friendly towards his temporary boss, but anybeast with half a brain could tell he was just trying to get on the good side of the stoat captain. “So,” the ferret said, “how’s it been goin’ for you, cap’n?” The stoat, although not being very smart, knew what this was about. “Oh, come off it, Grimtooth. You know very well there’s only one reason I brought you along. That’s t’be my messenger. You serve no other purpose here besides that. So stop trying to get me to favor you, silvertongue!” The ferret was silenced, and did not speak for a long time afterwards. As Spathar and the rest of The Fleet of the Claw patiently waited for a member of the attack party to return, the sun began to set. Soon, they found themselves sleeping until the sun rose again. As Spathar got up to watch the sun rise He soon learned that the wind was picking up. He could tell through the waves. Suddenly, something shook the entire boat. From what he saw, the Fang was hit too. Gramver, who was on deck guard duty that morning, was briskly asked what that was by the reddish-brown wildcat. “Aye, Master, From the way the boat rocked it appears we was hit from underneath.” the old rat replied. “Mace, did you feel that as well?” the wildcat continued to ask. “Yes, Master. Just as Gramver said, we’ve been hit from underneath.” Spathar heard a whole load of yelling down below the deck. As he went below to investigate, he learned that water had bursted inside the ship. Suddenly, they were hit again. The hole where the water was rushing in was being hastily covered in tar as the crewmembers were all flown in different directions. The wildcat fell over. As he struggled to his feet, Spathar noticed something rush by the Claw as the Fang was hit again. Then it hit him. He froze in horror. What was hitting their ships was no shark or sea serpent. What was terrorizing them was The Shadow of the Deep, a huge fish that was half pike, half eel. No one knew how long it had been around the sea, but what they did know was that you almost no chance of survival once it set it’s cold, unblinking, yellow eyes on your ship. Thinking fast, the wildcat ordered all beasts who were sleeping to be woken up and help the beasts trying to patch up the holes The Shadow had made. Gramver decided to tie the sails up because in this wind, it would make everything harder. As he was almost done, The Shadow hit the ship again. Gramver almost fell, but the old rat still clung on to the mast. The Shadow hit the Fang, pushing into the Claw. Gramver fell off, hitting his head on the way. As he fell into the water, Spathar began to hear a terrible wailing. Obviously from the brat Ripfang. “Grampa, grampa, you fell down! Waaaaaahhh!” the ratbabe wailed. Just then, The Shadow slammed itself into the Claw, sending the little rat into the water, hitting his head on a piece of debris and starting to float away on it. The wildcat needed a big beast, like himself, to help him kill the Shadow, before it destroyed the rest of The Fleet. He found that in Patcheye, the pine marten. “Quick, Patcheye, take this rope and tie it around the beast’s jaws.” the wildcat ordered. Patcheye did as he was told, but with great caution. As the beast jumped up and dragged a gray rat off the boat, Patcheye warily threw the rope around The Shadow’s mouth tightening it. Then quickly scrambling to tie it to the Claw’s mast, he believed it was secure. Just as he was about to motion for his wildcat leader to come and help him, the beast threw it’s head to the side, cracking the mast and throwing the pine marten up into the air, causing him to hit his head on the mast and fall into the water. Just as The Shadow was about to dive back into the water, Spathar lunged at it. With one skillful swing of his longsword, he beheaded the beast. And thus ended the life of The Shadow of the Deep.

Chapter Five Edit

When Gorse woke up, her first thought was to see how her friend Patchpaw was doing. The young hare was probably moaning from all the trifle he ate the night before. As she walked to his bedroom, she gently knocked on the door. No response. She didn’t exactly expect one, considering Patchpaw’s mouth was probably still swallowing all the trifle. So, she walked in and slammed her paw on the wooden frame of his bed, knocking him off of it. He woke up, confused. “Gorse, m’gel, what are you doin’ here, an’ this flippin’ early in th’ morn!?” he yawned. “I’m here to get you up and about so that you lose all the weight you put on last night. And the sun’s been up for hours now, so don’t say it’s too early in the morning!” the badgermaid replied. “Now come on, I’ve made up some exercises to help you.” The two friends walked down the hallways into Gorse’s room. It was much bigger than Patchpaw’s, and would provide more room for the exercises. “Alright now, Patchpaw. stand here in the middle of the room.” Gorse ordered. “Alright, Gorse. Now, what do I do now?” the black-patched hare asked. “Oh, just run in place for now, Patchpaw.” she answered. “Runnin’ in place? I could this all day.” Patchpaw remarked. Suddenly, a stone flew past the hare’s head. It was thrown by Gorse, who was at the moment brandishing a slingshot. “You may be able to run in place all day, but can you do while dodging stones?” said the badgermaid. “Now, faster! Faster!” continued Gorse as she shot a barrage of stones at Patchpaw. The hare started to dodge the stones while getting hit with a few every few minutes. After a few hours of that exercise, they moved on to a new one.This involved the hare pedalling on a contraption the badgermaid had made from a wheelbarrow wheel, a cut wooden plank, and a rope. This exercise worked mainly with the young hare’s legs and paws. After an hour, Patchpaw was exhausted. “Gorse,” he wheezed. “Can we move on to another exercise? ‘Cause this one’s too hard!” “Oh don’t worry, Patchpaw. This is the second exercise in my three-step program. Get up and I’ll show you where the third one is. Come on, now.” As the two friends walked through the corridors of Salamandastron Patchpaw broke the silence. “So what is this exercise anyway, Gorse m’gel?” The badgermaid glanced behind her to ensure Patchpaw wasn’t too far behind her before answering. “Oh, I thought there was nothing that could help you lose the weight you gained last night like good old manual labor. You’ll be helping in the kitchens.” “Helpin’ in th’ kitchens? I can do that any ol’ day!” the young hare scoffed. Gorse chuckled. Patchpaw thought he would be helping Aunt Berchy prepare the meal for tonight and maybe snatch a few hot scones whilst doing so. Oh no, he wouldn’t be doing that at all. He’d be lucky if he even got close to the scones. He would be rolling up the barrels of drink that they had made in the cellar, carrying huge cheese blocks from the pantry, and plopping giant mounds of dough on Aunt Berchy’s counter. As the two friends entered the kitchens, Aunt Berchy came to them and almost immediately began giving orders as to how many barrels of each drink was needed tonight. Before long, as Gorse was chopping onions for the Garden Salad, she heard the distant grunts and wheezes from Patchpaw as he struggled to bring up six barrels of Black Ale at the same time. “Come on, put your back into it! She heard Pinekin the Cellar Keeper call. She snickered as she dumped the squarely-chopped onions into the salad and mixed them all together using two wooden spoons.

Chapter Six Edit

Finally, after two days, the Talon arrived on the shore. Corsayr gave orders to start campfires at once. Considering it was already evening, they would need the warmth and the light to help them see when the crew was unloading supplies. The campfires were very bright, and although they were clearly visible through the dark night, the stoat didn’t worry at all. Spathar had told him not to worry about the element of surprise, because the plan was for the inhabitants of the mountain to think that this was all of their forces, and that Corsayr was their leader. His crew was quickly setting up camp, also making a small meal of cheese and mussels, and mushrooms. The moon was high in the sky as the crew of the Talon finished unloading the ship. Corsayr assigned Gevvy the rat, Werefo the weasel, and Redeye the stoat guard duty. Since it was the middle of the night, the stoat captain didn’t think to assign a second group of guards. Tired, and very pleased with the progress the group made, Corsayr returned to the captain’s cabin for the night. Werefo was not pleased. It wasn’t the cold that was bothering the weasel, nor was it being assigned guard duty for the rest of the night, it was no respect he got. Before Spathar and his followers made The Fleet of the Claw, he was the captain of the Talon. Every beast under his command was happy following him, and they were forever loyal. Of course, the ship wasn’t called the Talon then. It was called the Tideripper. That was, until Spathar and the Claw came and killed almost all of his crew. What was left was spread throughout the Fleet. He hated Spathar. He also hated Redeye and Gevvy. They were the only beasts on the Talon that were originally from his crew. When they had a new leader, the two didn’t even seem to notice. Where was their loyalty?! They were perfectly fine taking orders from Corsayr and Spathar. And he couldn’t order them around anymore, because he was their equal. Oh, but he would get those two backstabbers back all right, and Spathar too. He was fully aware that Spathar knew that he was planning against him. He also knew that eventually his leader would pick him off. While Redeye and Gevvy were joking amongst themselves, he was planning. Planning his revenge. For now, he would have to lay low and take orders without question. It would be very hard for the former weasel captain, but it be much better in the long run. As the first glimpses of the sunrise started to appear, he leaned back and smiled to himself. Someday, he would be the leader of The Fleet of the Claw! By the time every beast was awake, work had already begun on attacking the mountain. As they were ordered, the vermin crew did not put their full force into the barrages of arrows and stones that they flung at the mountain. Chibbo was in charge of the morning attack, then it would be passed onto Ferntooth the ferret, then Redeye. Today, Corsayr, Grimtooth, and Halfear would take a quick walk around the mountain and see if there are any obvious openings into it. Corsayr doubted there would be. He yawned as he took a pawful of berries from his other paw and stuffed them in his mouth. The stoat captain had to admit, though, that these days he would be spending trying to find a way inside the mountain was a relief. Spathar wasn’t around screaming orders at him, and the fox Mace wouldn’t be competing with him for Spathar’s favor, and if he succeeded in this task, surely he would be the wildcat ruler’s favor. Gevvy was assigning the foraging parties. He assigned Crowtail the ferret, Redeye, Ferntooth, Werefo, and himself to go into the small woods near the mountain for food. Werefo saw his chance. He could finally rid himself of those two backstabbing worms once and for all. As the group wandered through the bushes, Werefo spied a huge, muscular, blackbird. He quickly told Gevvy that the group should split up and that he, Redeye, and himself should get the blackbird. “Don’t worry about gettin’ in trouble.” the weasel archer said, “If we get the blackbird, then we’ll get all the credit. If anythin’, we might even get promoted!” Gevvy, being the fool he was, agreed. “Alright then,” Werefo continued, “You know that extra rope we keep handy if our rope ladder leadin’ up to our sails breaks? Well, we can throw that around the bird. Then, once you’ve pulled it close, I’ll stick it wi’ one of my arrows. Unnerstand?” Gevvy nodded quickly, telling Redeye to get the rope. After a few minutes, Redeye returned with the rope. The stoat handed it to Gevvy who threw it over his shoulder. Werefo quickly led them back to where he first spotted the huge blackbird. “Wow, that’s a big un!” Redeye commented. “Wait a minute, but how are we goner get the rope around it?” Gevvy realized. “We’ll never be able to throw it that high.” “Thank you for noticing, Gevvy. I suppose you’ll just have to climb that tree to do so.” Werefo replied. Werefo watched as Gevvy and Redeye scrambled up the tree and onto one of its limbs. The blackbird fluttered its wings and looked their direction, but did not notice the rat and the stoat up in the tree. The blackbird was just about to fly away when the rope was thrown around it. Werefo selected a shaft from his quiver and set it to his bow. Gevvy and Redeye drew it in, but the bird’s muscular build was dragging them towards the end of the limb. Werefo lifted his arrow in perfect alignment to the huge blackbird, but hesitated purposely. Gevvy and Redeye were now being pulled into the air. Redeye, being taller and heavier than Gevvy couldn’t hold on for very long. In a matter of seconds, the stoat fell to the ground. The bird was now lifting Gevvy into his cruel claws. The rat screamed and tried to kick away, lowering the blackbird to the ground slightly. Gevvy, in his struggle to free himself, accidently slipped his paws free from the rope, and soon, he too, fell to the ground with a sickening thud. The blackbird, now without anything to weigh itself down, started to take flight. Werefo, acting solely on instinct, drew back his bowstring as far as he could, and fired directly for the huge blackbird’s chest. It fell to the ground, dead. “Well, that takes care of two of me enemies and a promotion.” the weasel archer thought to himself.

Chapter Seven Edit

Spathar watched as the crew of the Claw and the Fang worked on repairs. Grekk and some others worked on repairing the mast, talking all the while."Boy, will I miss Gramver." the ermine said sadly. "I remember when we would be doin' important, serious work, an' he would be hummin' while he worked." a gray rat replied. "He was such a jolly feller." A ferret returned to the group with a pawful of wood. "Now, now." he said as he placed the wood down on the floor."Gramver wouldn't want us t'be grievin' over 'im like we are. I'm sure, wherever 'e is, 'e's probably makin' beasts laugh." This cheered the group up quite a bit,and they continued working while talking about their old friend. Spathar didn't much like it when beats would be happy, as he thought this change the amount of work they got done. But he was also amazed, as he did not know that many beasts were friends with the old searat. Just as the wildcat was about to return to his quarters, Mace stopped him. "Sir, we have blocked the hole in the side of the Fang and they are almost done sewing back up the torn sails." the fox captain reported. "Good. And how many are dead from the two ships?" Spathar replied. "Well, sir," Mace answered, "We've got Grimeye the ferret, brother of Grimtooth, dead. As well as the ratbabe Ripfang, The pine marten Patcheye, Jangon the stoat, and as we all know Gramver." "So five. And one of them is a babe. Very well. Dismissed." Spathar said. After Mace left, the wildcat walked into his quarters. It was larger than Mace and Corsayr's quarter's combined. It had a large bed, perfectly made, a large armchair, which the wildcat took with him when he left his father's castle, a lantern hanging in the center of the room, a bedside table, a shelf for his longsword, and a clear glass window on the wall across from the door. He also had spread out on a table a large assortment of daggers. He sat down and checked each one, flicking the dust off each blade with a claw. As he did so, he thought about his future, as King of The Mountain of the Fire Lizard. Just the mention of his name struck fear into the hearts of all who ever made the terrible mistake to oppose him. And maybe someday, he would have children of his own, to ensure himself an heir. He just imagined it, little wildcats running around, with the blood of the great King Spathar running in their veins. And maybe, after the mountain was conquered, he would head north, pillaging and conquering until he would reach the Northlands, where his old father reigned, and where Mortspear lived as the Crown Prince. Oh, he wouldn't show mercy to them just because they were his kin. He would kill his father, then his father's wife, then, finally, Mortspear. How he hated him. He couldn't wait to kill him. He wanted to cut him up as slowly as possible. Bit by bit, he would kill Mortspear. But that would happen later. Now he needed to focus on the mountain. It had a ruler. What beast it was, would be known later. It also must have had a fighting force of some sort. He didn't know how many it numbered either. There was a lot that he did not know. What he did know, however, was that he could not send all of his forces and conquer the mountain that way. He would not be respected that way. He had to challenge their leader, whatever it was, to a duel. Then, if he was losing the battle, he would have his finest archer at the ready to shoot the leader either in the neck or chest. This would not kill them though, but stun them for a few moments. A few moments was all he would need. While the enemy's leader was stunned, he would stab it in the chest. As it would fall. He would have a group sling stones at it, to ensure it had died. And, the enemy was trapped in the mountain, so there was no possible way for them to escape nor call for help. His plan was foolproof!

Chapter Eight Edit

The hares inside the mountain were very aware that they were being attacked. They set up sentries, stocked up food, and even had archers and slingbeasts fight back. Amberlon was one of them. He was a young hare, and quite lean. He was holding a spear at the moment, and the vermin outside were not much of a danger to him or any others. Things were very quiet until Ceteruler came outside onto the balcony. He was followed closely by Clea, and following them was Buckeye. Ceteruler was holding a sling, as was Clea. Buckeye, who always kept his quiver and bow with him, set an arrow to the string and fired at a rat. He was rewarded by a screech in the distance. "Well, that took care of the ol' blighter, wot wot! Now, we can just shoot down the entire army from a safe distance." he said through chuckles. And soon they were all doing just that. The four beasts made an amusing game of trying to strike down the most vermin. Gorse and Patchpaw watched from the crack between the two doors. Though they were young, the badgermaid and the hare thought that being at fourteen seasons old, they could stand to watch their elders knock down some vermin. Ceteruler sent a stoat tumbling backwards with a well-aimed stone to the gut. Werefo found it difficult not to aim to kill. From the time he took his first steps, he was taught to kill. It was instinct for him to aim for the heart. Corsayr came over to the group. "Well, lazybones, get killin' somethin'!!" he barked. "But cap'n, you said we don't aim t' kill!" Chibbo said. "I know what I said, an' now I'm tellin' you to kill somebeast! We need t' at least look like we knows what we're doin'!" Werefo couldn't believe it. He could put his archery skills to the test! He took aim at a huge hare with a bow much like his. The hare moved just as he let his arrow fly. He missed by a meter. "Werefo!" his stoat captain yelled. "I thought you said you were an archer! You missed th' hare! Make yerself useful an' get one o' th' bigger beasts. Get one o' the badgers, or you can jus' forget about that promotion!" Werefo looked at the two badgers. They were both standing side by side, taking down members of his group every few moments.He took aim for the female one, the one on the left. He realized that this was a bigbeast, and would need a bit more than an arrow to take it down. He searched in his little pouch he kept with him, taking out a jar of liquid poison. He smeared it all over the tip of one of his arrows.He set the shaft to his bowstring. Squinting, he brought his head close to the nock. He brought the arrow back as far as he could, and let fly. Gorse and Patchpaw watched as Clea sent another stone down onto the head of a rat. The hare and the badgermaid watched the an arrow fly up from the ground. Then there was a piercing cry. Clea fell to the ground, an arrow in her chest. Gorse let out a yell and ran through the doors, grabbing a lance from her quiver. Patchpaw grabbed her paw just as she was about to through it at the weasel who shot the arrow. "Slow down, Gorse m'gel, your mother's gonna be needin' you now more than you need to kill that pore ol' weasel." Ceteruler grabbed Clea's shoulders as Buckeye grabbed her legs and Amberlon pushed open the door. The words began to ring in Gorse's ears just as they were ringing throughout the mountain. "Clea's been shot! Lady Clea's been shot!"

Chapter Nine Edit

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