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Cassius was angry, as usual. He had just gotten into a fight with his brother Deka. Of COURSE their mother had sided with Deka, but that didn't make things any easier.
Cassius had stormed off in a rage, taking his club with him. He was slightly taller than average for a mouse of fifteen seasons, but he was so much of an outcast he had all the sadness of an old rat who had been living alone in a swamp.
He lay down in the hill muttering to himself. "I'll show him, one day I'm going to knock Deka's teeth out!" he growled.
However he began to calm down quickly after being in the hills. For some reason laying down alone and watching the clouds calmed him when nothing else could.
Suddenly he heard footsteps which puzzled him. Why would so many creatures be traveling at once? he wondered.
He decided to take no chances however, sliding on his stomach he crept down to see an astonishing sight. At least fourscore otters were trudging along the pathways between the two largest hills. Sneaking even closer, he saw that most of them were females and babes, with the rest of the males injured. Except one.
This one inspired fear in Cassius, he was tall, with magnificent armor and a sword to match. His cloak swirled in the light breeze.
Cassius was confused but he could tell that these were no marauders, so he decided to take the simplest course of action. He walked over.
Club slung over his shoulders he approached the armored otter. "Excuse me sir, but where are all you otters going?" he asked.
The otter turned at him and said in a much friendlier voice than Cassius had expected said "We're heading towards the Freedom Brigade".
Cassius nearly sighed with relief. "Not to seem too nosy but who are you and why would nearly enough otters to fill a tribe be heading towards the Brigade with so many injured warriors?" he asked.
The otter looked sad. "Well my name is Skor and we used to be the Riptide Tribe, as to why we have so many injured is a story for another time," suddenly he winked. "We're about to stop for the night so why don't you sit with us for a while.....uhhhhh"
Skor turned to the rest of his tribe and called out. " ime to set camp for the night!"
This was met with sighs of relief.
Later as they sat eating scones and dandelion cordial he explained how his tribe's Holt had been attacked by the Beasts and how his father and the rest of the uninjured warriors stayed in a final stand. Recounting these events simply reminded him of the pain all over again. Why couldn't I have done something? he wondered. What kind of warrior can't even protect his home?
His thoughts were interrupted by Cassius speaking. The mouse looked enraged. "Those cowards!" he exclaimed. "They call themselves warriors by ambushing a tribe and ransacking their home, scum!" He slammed his club into the ground. "Once you reach the brigade are you going to fight against the Beasts?" he asked.
Skor was surprised by the young mouse's anger. Of course I am he said. But why are you so concerned Cassius?
"Because Skor I'm going to fight too." Cassius said proudly.
"Whaaaaaaaaattttttttttt????????" Skor exclaimed.
Cassius shrugged. "I am an outcast here, no one wants me."
Skor was shocked. "How could those who you grew up with not care about what happens to you?" he asked in disgust.
Cassius nearly laughed. "Because I cause so much trouble, like accidentally starting a fire in the kitchen a few times, or when I tried to make fireworks, it took two weeks for me to clear out the rubble." he shrugged. "When you mess with mice like them too much they start to see you as more of a nuisance than a creature."
Skor chuckled. "What did you destroy when you used fireworks?" he asked.
Cassius looked at him sheepishly. "My house."
Skor burst out laughing. Cassius glared at him, but soon he developed a fit of giggles.
Still chuckling Skor said. "Fine, lets get some rest then you go pack some food and we'll go."
Soon the camp was filled with snores as the campfires smoldered out of existence.
Danger was in the air though.
Four sets of eyes watched them from the darkness. Greytooth and his gang.Four big dirty rats, they spent their days robbing travelers and stealing food, but this was the jackpot.
Greytooth laughed softly. "Mousey and streamdog went sleepy!"
One of his rats licked his knife. "Then we cutta thir throats!"
Greytooth grabbed him and cuffed him hard. "No dum dum we take the armor offa streamdog and then we has fun wiv dem" he smiled.
In his dreams Skor saw his father staring at him with cold hard eyes. Why didn't you save me he asked. Why my son, why did you fail?
Skor couldn't speak however hard he tried. He could merely watch with tears in his eyes.
Suddenly he felt much lighter. Opening his eyes he saw why.
Five rats were holding his breastplate and both of his gauntlets in their hands. Then the largest one brought a hammer down on each piece of armor until they were just banged up pieces of metal.
Leaping to his footpaws Skor drew his sword and roared a battlecry. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Cassius wake with a start before grabbing his club and attacking.
Skor ran straight at Greytooth and lifted his sword high, and with one stroke made Greytooth two half-rats.
Spinning his sword in an arc he sliced the head off another rat then smashed the hilt of his sword against the head of another, knocking him senseless. Before the rat could regain consciousness he stabbed it's abdomen.
Cassius was doing well on his own. Tackling one rat they rolled over and over, straining to get leverage. Cassius ended up on top, punching his enemy in the eye he brought the club down with crushing force, leaving a crater where a head once was.
He turned with lightning speed to see the final rat coming at him with a dagger.
Cassius dodged the blow before jabbing the rat hard in his bulbous stomach. As the rat doubled over he swung his club back before striking the rat's chin mightily.
They stopped, breathing heavily before calming the rest of the tribe with assurances the rats were dead.
As Skor and Cassius threw the rat's bodies away Cassius sighed.
Skor stopped. "What is it mate?" he asked.
Cassius looked sad. "It's too bad that scumbag destroyed so much of your armor." he said.
Skor agreed. "Maybe but at least I can wear a shirt now." he laughed.
Soon their laughter echoed as they made their way back to the camp.
Once they got back Skor put the rest of his armor and cloak into a bag and put on a light short sleeved tunic, with a dark leather jerkin on top.
Before stopping he threw a small tunic to Cassius. "This is usually for young otters but it will fit you just fine." he said.
Cassius took it gratefully and in the morning they set off.
Over the next few weeks Skor and Cassius repelled three more vermin attacks. As they defeated more enemies they grew as warriors. Even the other tribe members began to see them as more than just young'uns.
On the fifth week they reached a series of camps.
As they neared the camp a hare leading at least fivescore mice, sqirrels, and hedgehogs approached.
The hare addressed Skor first. "Sah, what sir are you and all these folk doin around here? Sah" he asked.
Cassius answered. "We're looking for the Freedom Brigade...sir"
The hare glared at him before asking Skor. "Sah, why would a bally bunch of otters be looking for the brigade?"
Skor frowned. "We were driven from our home and my tribe needs shelter." he said evenly.
The hare looked sympathetic. "Then you need to travel no more young'un." he said gravely.
"Why is that?" Cassius and Skor demanded.
The hare looked at them. "What are your names?" he asked.
The hare nodded. "Well Skor and Cassius my name is Colonel Frumpshaw, but call me Colonel Frump, and the reason you no longer need to travel is because you have found the brigade."