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A Scholar's Rage part 3

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This is not the end. there will be many more chapters and I will update regularly.

Chapter 1

"You recruits need to work on discipline some more!" yelled Commander Stone, a middle aged mouse with a corpulent stomach and an eye patch.

Skor sighed. It had been half a season since he and Cassius had led the remainder of his tribe to the Freedom Brigade. Once the tribe had settled down they had been assimilated into the mass of refugees and travelers. However he and Cassius had joined the warriors and had become recruits training to join the ranks.

As the commander continued yelling Cassius leaned over. "If he yells any more he'll blow up." he whispered.

Skor crouched slightly so he could hear his friend. He was a quite tall for an otter, with a muscular frame and amber eyes.

He rolled his eyes at his friend. "Maybe, but he would have your hide if he heard you mate so try to be more respectful."

Cassius grunted and resumed staring ahead. He was a strongly built mouse with silvery fur that shone in the pale gloom.

Skor did the same, struggling not to laugh as the commander tripped and fell flat on his face.

Stone jumped up, growling as he heard a slight snigger from the ranks. "Who laughed?" he roared. "Was it you or you?" he pointed at a young squirrel, and then a badger.

When no one came forward he stopped. "So nobody knows hmm?" he asked coldly. "Well since obviously you're all so innocent you can clean the mess hall!"

All the recruits groaned. The mess hall was extremely messy after the warriors had thrown a party to celebrate after they had sent a robber band packing.

"No complaining!" Stone roared, "Get to it NOW!"

Muttering among themselves the recruits began the highly arduous task of cleaning the mess hall.

As they worked Cassius and Skor found time to talk about the commander.

"I think ole Stonebottom can do this by himself!" Cassius exclaimed as he mopped. "He's just sore because it was funny when he fell on his face."

Skor wiped the sweat off of his face. "Aye but he still has the power to make us do what he wants mate so let's just get it done." he said.

Cassius scowled but did not pursue the subject as they worked.

Finally the recruits were finished. Grimy, sweaty, tired, and hungry, but they were finished.

The commander came to inspect their work. As he scanned the mess hall he nodded approvingly. "Good job, now get some scoff and some sleep, well be training harder than ever for the next half season!"

A hare raised his hand and asked. "We've been training all bally season chaps, why do we need to train any flippin harder?"

Stone glared at him. "Because you all will soon be recruited and out into squadrons by the end of the season!"

Gasps arose from the recruits. They had been training for a half season and soon they would finally achieve what they had been waiting for!

"Alright now get some food and go to sleep!" the commander said before walking out.

As the recruits ate scones with damson juice excited murmurs echoed across the room as talk about graduating began circulating.

As Skor and Cassius sat ate they were joined by Ash, a black squirrel who had just reached fourteen seasons.

"Well, do you think that sourface will finally let us join?" Ash asked excitedly.

"I hope so because although we're learning and getting stronger this training is driving me crazy!" said Cassius.

"Ha!" Skor laughed, "Some beasts would say you were crazy before we even got here!"

As he and Ash laughed Cassius glared at them before he too collapsed into a fit of giggles.

Finally they all went to their hammocks.

As they walked towards their separate hammocks Cassius questioned Skor.

"Do you really think we'll be finished after another half season mate?" he asked curiously.

Skor yawned tiredly. "I hope so, but we should just focus on improving whether he meant it or not." he yawned again.

Cassius chuckled. "Better get to your hammock before your nose touches the ground." he joked.

Skor laughed before he and Cassius separated.

"G'night."

"Night."


Chapter 2

"Wake up maggots!" the roar shook the world.

Recruits, including Skor and Cassius, scrambled out of their hammocks, grabbing weapons and eating as fast as they could as Stone watched.

He smiled in amusement. "Now you young'uns don't have such a smart remark now do ye? Now it's time to go to work!"

Soon came a half-season of the harshest training any of the recruits had ever endured. They were split into groups according to species. Otters, hares, badgers, mice, squirrels, and shrews. Each unit had their own special brand of training. Otters were trained to hold their breath underwater, swim with boulders and to effectively fight underwater with weapons. Squirrels discovered ways to ambush enemies from the trees, and to shoot the wings from a dragonfly. Mice and shrews had the same regiment, taking massive hikes, and lifting rocks, while badgers learned how to travel almost silently despite their great girth. Hares however, presented a different story. Soon they could run at incredible speeds without stopping.

Finally at the end of the season while they were eating Stone gave an announcement.

"Listen up maggots!" he shouted. "You have reached the end of your training howe-" here he was drowned out by the whooping and cheering as the recruits celebrated.

Stone waited for the noise to die down before continuing. "However", he said. "You have your final test tonight though."

Amid the groans Cassius stood up. "What else is there to do?" he shouted accusingly at Stone. "We've been working our tails off all season!"

Skor rose. "Aye, what would you have us do now anyway?" he asked, agreeing with his friend. "I think you should have run out of tests by now."

Stone glared at them. "Capture the Flag." he growled.

They stared uncomprehendingly. "Capture the flag?"

Aye " Stone said smoothly. "Capture the Flag is a war game we have used for countless seasons to finally let our recruits join the Brigade."

He rose to his full height. "Your objective is to steal the other team's flag while defending your own." he explained. "You must use the strategies you have learned and your own wits to win, now I will assign teams, red team and blue team, now line up!"

After assigning everyone to teams Stone faced them, to everyone's shock they saw a tear in his eye.

"It has been a pleasure watching all of you grow in every way." he said slowly. "I hope you all rise up to the challenges you will face in the Brigade."

Once they got over their shock the recruits separated into their branches of the woods.(coincidentally Skor and Cassius were on the blue team)

While they added their makeshift armor Elka, the hare leading their team began devising a strategy. "Alright chaps this he plan, we post a guard hidden near the flag so those red chaps can't get em."

Skor leaned towards Cassius. "I could've thought of that." he whispered.

Cassius chuckled. "Aye, I guess thinking of something smart is too much for ole Elka."

"Eh em." they turned to see the rest of their team glaring at them. "D you chaps think we should be laughing or plotting?" Elka asked.

Cassius nodded like he had been thinking the same thing. "Of course mate, me and my friend were discussing the best way to disarm those pikebeasts when they come at us." he replied nonchalantly.

Skor grinned. Cassius was an excellent liar, he even said he had tricked his father into thinking the barn was on fire once.

Elka grunted and resumed speaking. "Now we take half of our forces to create a distraction and while they're distracted we charge and swipe the bally flag right from under their noses wot!"

After they all agreed the game began. Skor and Cassius were set as guards.

At first nothing happened as they waited, hidden behind the trees.

Cassius looked around. With them were Ash, Thorn the badger, and Freet, a young shrew.

Skor suddenly pointed. "Look!" he shouted. "The distraction worked!"

As they followed his gaze they saw his point. Elka and half of their forces were sprinting along, chased by the red team.

Cassius smiled. "Looks like we've already won."

That was when they were surrounded.

Skor was amazed at how they had been flanked, there was now time to think about it, he decided as he unsheathed his sword.

"Protect the flag!" he shouted.

Suddenly he found Cassius at his side, club in hand.

They grinned at each other before hurling themselves into battle.

Skor landed next to a squirrel, giving him no time to react, he bashed him upside the head with his sword hilt. Sheathing his sword he went to work with his paws. Jabbing and giving stunning left and right hooks. He often spun and used his rudder to knock his foes flying before using his momentum to give a massive right hook to whoever stood in his path.

Cassius was faring just as well. Using his mace to deliver non-lethal blows while also using the haft as well as the head. Several times he was about to get struck before he jabbed his foe in the stomach before slamming the haft of his mace on their exposed heads.

Soon they realized how far they had come from amateur fighters to dangerous warriors, they had no time to dwell on it though as a mouse with several shrews guarding him grabbed the flag and went sprinting towards the border.

"Go after them!" Thorn roared, swiping at all within range of his paws.

"What about all of you?" asked Skor.

"We'll be fine, just go!"

Finally Skor and Cassius began sprinting after them, gaining quickly with each stride.

When they were close enough Cassius tackled the mouse and they went rolling away, fighting tooth and claw.

Skor defeated the shrews by bashing their heads together. Before they lost consciousness however, they managed to wind him by kicking him several times in the stomach.

Cassius was not faring much better. The mouse was quite strong and kicked him many times. He retaliated be jabbing his foe hard in the stomach several times. As they faced each other he snarled. "Was that it, come on!"

As they charged the mouse tried to punch him in the face. Cassius turned at the last moment and used the mouse's momentum to slam him into the ground.

He picked up the flag and ran to Skor.

As he approached Skor looked at him. "You look like you had an argument with a gorse bush." he joked.

"Ha look at yourself black eye Bob." Cassius replied, leaning on the flag. "Now we should hurry before you faint."

Skor laughed. "Aye red nose Roger." And they ran back to find all of the invaders unconscious.

As they approached Freet ran over. "Good. You got the flag," he grinned, showing bloody teeth, "Now lets set it up again eh?"

Cassius set the flag down and grinned. "You all look like you had a rough time." And it was true. Besides a bloody mouth Freet and Ash had black eyes, and Thorn's fur was completely ruffled.

Ash threw a stick at him. "Whatever barrel bottom. You two look like you ran into too many trees on the way back." he chuckled.

Skor smiled. "Probably because we didn't have your bushy bottom to smack us in the face."

Soon they all were clutching their sides as they laughed.

Thorn leaned on a tree, then froze. "Do you hear the cheering?" he asked.

"I do." Cassius said slowly, before slowly heading towards the sound of the noise. Quietly they followed him.

When they saw the source of the disturbance the cheered and ran towards the riverbank that acted as the boundary line.

Elka and the rest of their team had gotten the flag!

As they celebrated Stone and Colonel Tenka, a massive badger strode towards them.As they (including the red team) saluted Tenka spoke in his deep voice.

"It has been a long season of training and drills, and now you have finally reached the end. Now you will join our brigade to keep peace and justice supreme in the land. Do you intend to do this?"

"YES SIR!!!!" they all replied.

Tenka smiled. "Then at ease, privates of the Freedom Brigade!"

"HUUUUURRRRAAAAAGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" they all cheered..

The colonel raised his paw. "Now for the next several days you will have time to rest and recuperate. And you will be put into teams that you will serve in for the rest of your service here, FRRRRRRREEEEEEEEEDDDDDDDDDDOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!" he roared.

"FRRRRRRREEEEEEEEEDDDDDDDDOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!" they replied.

As he put them into teams strangely Cassius, Freet, Ash, Thorn, and Skor were in the same team, with Skor as the leader.

They were given the name SNOW Team.

The next day after all the wounded had been taken to the infirmary Cassius and Skor sat together.

Cassius wore a sleeveless jerkin with a backpack and red trousers. Skor wore a light grey short sleeved tunic and a blue jerkin with black trousers.

Cassius smiled as the sun rose. "Ah now we finally joined the Brigade." he said. Skor grinned happily. "Yep mate, now we're in the big leagues."

"Do you think we're ready?"

"Do you?"

Simultaneously. "Of course."

As they laughed Skor turned serious. "Now it's time."

Cassius nodded. "It is."

Then they began to make a warrior's vow. "As good fades and evil takes root I swear to stay true and be a friend to you!"

When they were done Cassius leaned back and closed his eyes. "Now we are true warriors mate." he said happily.

"Aye, replied Skor, just as happy, now we are."


Chapter 3

Higg, the fat weasel who was in charge of the slaves cracked his whip. "Move it you pathetic weaklings! The king is waiting for his fish!" he cracked his whip across the back of any slave who worked too slowly.

From where he swam Skor glared hatefully at him. One season ago his team had attempted a recon mission to scout the fortress where King Maldra ruled. It had gone horribly wrong, surrounded Skor had pulled a desperate trick that allowed the rest of his friends to escape but he had been captured and enslaved ever since.

Now he worked as a fishermen, catching fish for the king and the royal family.

He leaped onto the boat with a net load of fish. The rat on board gestured towards the bag. After Skor had finished Higg rowed over.

He looked Skor over in disgust. "Pack it up slave, time for the picking." he sneered.

Skor swam towards the shore, and after being checked over for a weapon he was escorted towards the cave.

All the slaves lived in the massive cave. After the day's duties were over guards would bring the ration of food and water and then they would bring the portcullis down over the entrance, sealing the slaves in.

He sat on a rock, eating the porridge and water silently. Soon the call was made.

When the slaves had finished eating they would tell stories by a massive campfire. Everybeast sometimes had a tale to tell, and they would sometimes spend hours there.

By the time he reached them everyone was sitting already.

Notar, and elderly squirrel who was the spokesbeast for the group welcomed him. "Ah you finally made it." he smiled.

Skor smiled and sat down. "That I did. Now who is telling a story this time?"

"You are."

"But I don't know any."

"Well make one up."

Skor sighed and relented. "Oh alright." he grumbled. Once before I was born there was an squirrel. Milan Skyeyes he was called. It was said that he was the fastest, and bravest of his kind.

One day when he arrived at his home he saw something was amiss. His bow and arrows were gone! Those had been in his family for generations! So he silently goes up in the trees to find the thief.

It took him some time before he found that a young weasel had taken it and was practicing with it. Milan saw that he could not slay the young one so he took him by surprise. Skor saw that they were hooked so he continued. Milan dropped from the trees and wham! He catches the weasel by the scruff and asks, Now what do you think you're doing?

The weasel knowing what he had done was ashamed and told him how sorry he was, and how he was very good with a bow and just couldn't resist taking it when he saw it in Milan's home.

Milan let him go and asked the weasel to shoot down an apple. Now the apple was at least eighty feet away and the weasel actually hits it dead on!

Milan was astounded and asked the weasel his name. The weasel didn't even have a name. He had been living alone in the forest for enough time to forget. So Milan took pity on him and named him Keeneye, and he raises him and teaches him how to shoot.

And after he was grown Keeneye went out to seek his fortune. He was kind, strong, and noble and he was respected up to his death. And they say Keeneye sometimes shoots near little ones who don't listen to their mommies! The little ones looked around apprehensively before a little mousebabe stood up.

"But why did a squiggle teach a varmint how ta shot?" he asked.

Skor laughed. "Because Milan also had a good heart, and he wouldn't leave a young one alone to fend for himself." he said.

The mouse's eyes glinted in admiration. "I'm gonna be like Milan someday!" Soon all the young ones were laughing and cheering at the story. Skor simply nodded.

"You should all try to be like Milan." he said seriously. "But Milan also had to get sleep. So lets get some too."

Soon parents were taking the protesting babes to the corners where they slept. During the commotion Notar walked up to Skor and grinned.

"Nice story."

"Thank you."

"But you need sleep too, and you should consider changing your name."

"Why?"

"It means slave here."

Skor lay down as Notar began to walk away. Suddenly he sat up and called as Notar was still in earshot. "Then my name is Rova."

Notar nodded and called before walking away. "I'll be sure everyone knows."

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Rova grunted as he dragged an especially large net of fish towards the boat. As he deposited it the guard, this time a stoat handed him a pair of burgundy trousers and a belt. Rova was surprised but took it without complaint. "Thank you." he said as he put them on. The stoat looked bored. "Don't get used to it."

Rova nodded and jumped back into the water. After five more netfuls he was called towards the shore, as was every slave.

As they plodded along he asked a guard what was going on. The rat laughed. "Oh you ain't never heard f the pickin? Well the royal family each needs a personal slave to take care of their businesses. Especially since the last bunch had that accident." Rova remembered it perfectly. The old slaves had been unfit for their positions and had "fallen" off one of the towers to the water below, where those who did not die from the fall were eaten by the sharks.

Finally they reached the foot of the stairs to the palace. It was a massive fortress, guarded by a huge gate with a wall surrounding the perimeter, most slaves had never seen the inside, although many of them would sacrifice much to get a glimpse.

As the doors opened they bowed. Whoever was too slow got Higg's whip across their backs. Soon the royal announcer cried. "Make way for King Maldra and the royal family!"

Rova watched them as they sat in four polished wood thrones. The king spoke. "Rise." he commanded.

As they rose Rova saw the royal family for the first time.

Maldra was a massive wildcat. He wore a golden crown with an emerald set in it's center. Otherwise he had a simple leather tunic and a red cape. Rova admired his strong figure. Also he had a double headed battleaxe strapped to his back.

Queen Vespira was shorter. Wearing a violet dress with a silver crown on her head. She had all sorts of jewlery adorning her body. Rova could almost not see her neck. Then came the princes.

Prince Molza was the oldest, nearly twenty one seasons. Rova had heard Molza enjoyed watching slaves get eaten by sharks. As far as he saw the rumors were true. Molza was the image of his father, with a red tunic and a black cape. He held a saber at his waist. He sneered as he looked at the hapless slaves.

Then came Prince Atrax. Atrax was about Rova's age, with a simple blue vest and a saber across his back. Rova had heard Atrax was actually docile compared to the rest of his family.

Maldra stood up. "Now you know we are in need of new slaves," he announced. "But, if you serve us well you will be treated. . . well."

Rova sneered to himself. Maybe, if "well" means getting fed to a shark instead of falling off a tower, he thought.

He started as Higg roared an order. "Line up for their majesties!" the fat weasel cracked his whip menacingly.

The slaves jostled each other as they hastily made a line. Higg began whipping a slave who had not been fast enough and had fallen. The slave was a tiny mousemaid, no more than five seasons. She screamed as the whip made lines across her back.

Rova struggled against the rage that he felt. He became even angrier when nobeast tried to do anything. Finally he could take no more.

Barreling through a group of slaves he hurled himself on the fat weasel. Higg could do nothing as the berserk otter rained thunderous punches on his head, stomach, and everything else that would hurt.

Soon the slaves were whooping and cheering him on.

"Get him in his lard filled stomach!"

"Give it to im mate!"

"Make him pay!"

Soon ten guards had to restrain the otter. They menaced him with spears, keeping him away from Higg, who was black and blue and missing quite a few teeth. Eventually they forced him to his knees and cuffed him.

As Rova struggled against the chains keeping his forepaws together the Royal family approached him.

Maldra drew the axe and held it to Rova's neck. "You have spirit," he said coldly. "Now look at me."

Rova snarled. "No."

Admiration glinted in Maldra's eyes. "Interesting, very interesting," he smiled dangerously. "I think I have just found one of our prince's slaves."

Molza came forward. "I think I could beat some sense into this one." he sneered at Rova, who bared his teeth.

Maldra turned and glared at his eldest son. "No Molza I think Atrax should get this one."

Molza looked angry. "But father I-"

"But nothing," Maldra interrupted. "Now Atrax, come here." Atrax stepped forward, his face betraying no emotion as he looked at Rova, who glared back.

"Now take him to your room," Maldra said, lifting the axe. Atrax walked towards the palace and beckoned for Rova to follow. Molza trembled with rage as he watched them depart. "Soon brother, you and I will have a reckoning." he whispered.

Chapter 4

Atrax led Rova through incredible hallways. Rova had never seen so much splendor in one place, although this one disgusted him. How could anybeast live in such comfort while so many others suffered to make their lives better? Well, at least they didn't kill me, he thought.

Atrax opened a wooden door. "This is my room," he said.

Rova looked around. The room was a large chamber. In one corner was a massive bed with fine sheets and pillows. There was a window with a large silken sheet for closing it when Atrax desired. Next to the bed was a bookshelf and a desk, where a small jar filled with ink and a feather quill sat.

Rova had expected the room to emphasize the prince's status much more, instead of being so simple.

Atrax barred the door. "Now that we're alone I would like to know more about you." he said plainly.

Rova was suspicious. "Like what?" Atrax chuckled. "Maybe. . . you're name?" Rova laughed. "My name's Rova."

Atrax gave him a sharp look. "Yes?" Rova asked, wondering what he had done wrong. Atrax grinned. "You didn't say master." Rova was horrified. "I apologize master. It won't happen again."

Atrax laughed. "It doesn't matter. When we are alone you can simply call me Atrax."

Rova smiled, filled with new respect. "Aye," he said kneeling before looking up at his new friend. "Atrax."

Together the laughed before they heard a bell. "That's the bell for dinner," Atrax said hastily. "Remember in public address me only as master, and I will call you slave."

Rova grinned. "Of course master.

Atrax smiled before leading him towards the dining room. "Excellent slave.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Soon Rova began learning the ropes. During the week he would spend his time at the palace serving Atrax. But during the weekend he would return to the normal slave regimen, albeit without the beatings. During these times Rova would read or learn more about the royal family and the hierarchy in the city.

One day when they were alone in Atrax's room he simply asked Atrax. "Do you know what happened to my sword? It was taken from me the day I was captured."

Atrax looked at him strangely. Rova could have sworn he seemed uneasy, like he knew exactly where the sword was. "Do you mean that broadsword with a black blade?" Rova nodded. "It", Atrax gulped. "It was taken and snapped in half."

Rova felt a jolt in his gut. He had lost his home and many of his tribe, but now he had lost the one piece of his father he had left. Atrax put a hand on his shoulder. "I'm sorry." he whispered.

Rova simply stared at the ground as tears poured down his cheeks. Atrax suddenly stopped. Rova knew that look. A gleam would enter Atrax's eye and he would invent some scheme that they would laugh over.

Rova wiped his eyes and looked at him. "What are you thinking.?" Atrax slowly smiled. "What was that sword made out of anyway?" he asked. Rova thought it over before repying. "Steel."

"And would you like it to be reforged?" Rova shrugged. "I don't see why not". he said. Here Atrax grinned. "But it could be made stronger and better than before!"

Rova was excited and clasped his friend's shoulder. "But how could you make it stronger?" he asked.

Atrax sat down on the bed before replying. "Many seasons ago my grandfather was about to sleep when he saw a flash of light. He took a squad of soldiers with him and he found a meteorite! He was unsure of what to do so he had his soldiers bring it back and it has been in the cellar ever since."

Rova was intrigued. "Are you suggesting we remake the sword out of the rock?"

Atrax grinned. "Do you want to?"

"Of course!"

"Well let's try it!"

Immediately they walked down to the cellars to retrieve it. The rock was massive. Ebony black, and at least forty feet long. Rova began to have doubts. "How are we going to lug this thing to the forges?" he demanded.

Atrax chuckled. "That, my friend is what guards are for. GUARDS!" he yelled as a score of vermin in armor hurriedly ran in. Atrax pointed at the meteorite. "Bring it to the forges." he demanded. As they struggled with the meteor Atrax whispered questions to Rova. "Would you like it exactly the way it was, or different?"

Rova grinned as he contemplated it. "Yeah mate. Instead of a broadsword I need something more versatile." Atrax looked thoughtful. "Like a hand-and-half sword?"

"Exactly."

A hand-and-half sword could be wielded with two paws, or with one if need be. Rova had enjoyed using the original sword, but it had been cumbersome in battle.

When they reached the forges Atrax called the blacksmith, a large fox with calloused paws. Atrax smiled and introduced them. "Rova, this is master Emberfur. He has created the best weapons in our arsenal, including my father's axe."

Emberfur bowed. "Pleasure t meet ye. What do ya need yer highness?" Atrax pointed at the meteor. "Rova's sword was destroyed and he needs a new one. I need you master, to put more care and precision into this weapon than any other you have made. Including the king's battleaxe."

Emberfur smiled. "Finally a challenge for my skills! I shall work as fast as me paws allow your highness."

Atrax shook his paws. "Thank you very much." he said gratefully. As they left he informed Rova. "Emberfur is highly renown here. He's the best craftsmen ever to live in the city."

Rova was curious. "Do you mean he actually created that axe?" Atrax chuckled. "That and more."

Soon the rest of the week passed uneventfully before Atrax seemed very excited one day. Rova had no idea what was going on as he was led towards the forges. Atrax was giving no hints and simply saying. "You shall see once we arrive."

As they arrived they found Emberfur waiting for them. In his paws he held a long object with cloth covering it. He smiled as Rova approached. "Ah master Rova! You came to me a short time ago askin fer a sword. It took me longer to make than any of my other projects. But the wait is over. Voila!" He threw off the cloth.

Atrax and Rova were thunderstruck. In only a week Emberfur had created the most stunning sword either of them had ever seen. The scabbard was dark brown, with the hilt made of platinum shaped in the head of an otter. In the pommel a sapphire had been used as the otter's eye. Emberfur presented the blade to Rova, who stared at it a moment before drawing the sword.

The blade was perfect! The handle felt like it had been made for him, with the symbols remade into the weapon. It had been created to end lives, yet it was beautiful.

Rova laughed and swung the blade. He brought it up and around in a complicated pattern before bringing it down right near Atrax's footpaws. He stopped and sheathed it before strapping it to his back.

He knelt at Emberfurs feet . . . footpaws (whatever). "Thank you master Emberfur. You have restored my pride, and my honor."

Emberfur chuckled. No need to thank me young'un. Now before you go I also had some robes made for you."

Lifting a paw he presented a short sleeved red tunic and a black hooded jerkin over top.(Rova kept the hood down) Then he presented a fine pair a black pants.

Rova shook the wizened fox's fur. "Thank you so much." Emberfur merely smiled.

As they walked away Atrax shook his head. "Emberfur has outdone himself. Molza will probably find out." Rova frowned. Neither of them trusted Molza. He was cruel and selfish, but he had spies. His slave Deka was a large mouse would do anything for extra food or beer.

"Maybe.But I just hope nothing happens to Emberfur." Rova said uneasily.

Atrax grimaced. "Me too."

Chapter 5

Cassius sighed as he and the rest of Snow team plodded along the path. Colonel Tenka had ordered them to journey to the legendary Redwall abbey to deliver a secret letter to Abbot Dunbar. So much for real missions, he thought as they passed the massive oak tree that marked the entrance to Mossflower Woods.

Ash, noticing his friend's anger put a paw around his shoulders. "Y' know mate, I should just drop some water on you. You're gloomier than a hare with no food." Cassius shrugged him off. "I'm not in the mood."

Freet toyed with his rapier. They all knew what was the matter. Cassius had been this way since Skor had been captured. "Come on mate it's not like-" Cassius slammed his club into the ground. "It's not like what? That he's dead!" he roared. "Just because we couldn't complete one lousy mission my mate was... was..." he fell to his knees sobbing.

Freet patted him on the back. "I know. I know." he said sadly. Suddenly he lifted Cassius to his feet. "Come on mate. Skor would be ashamed if'n he saw you blubberin. Do you know what he would say?"

Cassius wiped his eyes. "Aye. He would tell me to get off my tail and focus on the mission." Freet patted him on the back. "Good, now let's get to the abbey. I've always wanted to try Redwall grub. Just imagine! Pies and truffles, cordials and ales, and apple turnovers!"

Thorn laughed at the thought of Freet trying to eat so much. "Watch out Freet. If you eat so much we might have to clean you off of the walls!"

Ash snickered and Cassius laughed uproariously. Thorn was shaking, trying to conceal his laughter. Freet looked annoyed before he laughed too, and they set off again.


It had been several days.as Rova and Atrax sparred in the training room Rova shared a personal thought. "You know mate I think it's time I returned to the brigade."

Atrax looked thoughtful as he thrust his sabre. Rova parried, then retaliated by sweeping at Atrax's legs. Atrax jumped. "I noticed."

"You did?"

Atrax laughed. "Of course I did. You stare out the windows as if you want to fly away. I'm not blind you know."

Rova blocked before stabbing then parrying. "So will you help me escape?" he asked uncertainly. Atrax had become his friend, but he was unsure if he would betray his family just to help him.

These thoughts vanished as Atrax grinned. "Of course. It's not like there's any love lost between the members of our family. Molza is a bully and Mother and Father barely pay me any attention. No on will miss me." he stated.

Rova suddenly frowned and sheathed his sword. Atrax did likewise. "But how are we going to escape?"

Atrax shrugged in a nonchalant way. "You just leave that to me."

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


The next morning Rova woke quickly. Donning a sleeveless black tunic, his burgundy trousers, bracers for his forearms, and his belt and sword he woke Atrax.

His friend quickly donned a red tunic and some simple pants. After grabbing his saber he handed a dark cloak to Rova. "Keep that on and fill the pockets with as much food as you can carry." he whispered before putting one on himself.

Rova nodded, and they crept into the kitchen. Grabbing meat, bread, and all sorts delicacies and drinks they quickly found themselves loaded with food. Atrax signaled Rova. Creeping out the door they head towards the gate.

After exiting they crept through the grounds. Occasionally meeting a guard or slave. The beast would be knocked out immediately and hidden so nobeast found them and called an alarm. Eventually they came to a bridge connecting the royal city to the massive Mossflower forest.

As they hid behind a tree Rova took off his cloak. "What are you doing?" hissed Atrax.

Rova simply rolled up his cloak and tied it. Making it a makeshift harversack. Atraxx chuckled quietly before doing the same. "Smart. Now let's keep moving."

Rova nodded and they set off into the trees. Using all cover they proceeded slowly and stealthily.

Eventually Rova stopped and sat down. Opening his harversack he unloaded two chunks of hazelnut bread. Tossing one to Atrax he looked at him questioningly. "Let's take a rest. Now where are we?"

Atrax checked his map. "The brigade is about twoscore miles away from this point. The closest place to us is Redwall."

Rova sat bolt upright. "Redwall! I grew up hearing about that place. Not to mention the food is legendary! We should go."

Atrax looked uneasy. "Maybe, but will they trust a wildcat? I've seen from records that Redwall is none too fond of my species." Rova, noticing his friend's uneasiness put a paw around Atrax's shoulders. "Remember that Redwall will give a home to all as long as they are of good heart. And you have an excellent heart."

Atrax grinned. "Well then what are we waiting for?"

Rova chuckled. "Sleep mate. Let's get some rest before we head off. Atrax completely agreed. His head had been drooping and twice he had found himself nodding off.

Soon they were sleeping peacefully, hidden beneath the massive protruding roots of a Yew tree.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Earlier that day team Snow had reached redwall. They were greeted by Skipper Hawthorne and Abbot Dunbar. Dunbar was a plump dormouse who seemed to have an air of dottiness surrounding him. He smiled at them. "Welcome, welcome young ones. I see you have come from the brigade. Rest for a moment before relating your tale. I can see you are famished."

Cassius shook paws with the abbot. "Thank ye. We've been traveling nonstop to bring you something, father abbot."

Skipper ushered them in before closing the wallgate. "Well matey's. I think you should have some scoff before bringing us anything." he chuckled as Ash's belly rumbled.

They strode into great hall. The entire team tried to take everything in. They had heard many stories of this place, but they had never expected to see it.

As they reached the tapestry Cassius stopped. He was awed by the image depicting a heroic mouse in armor who wielded a great sword. Vermin fled in all directions from this mighty warrior.

Dunbar, noting their expressions nodded solemnly. "This is Martin the warrior. He founded our abbey long ago and has guided us through his spirit. He has always found a way to help us when our abbey is in danger, or to choose our champion."

Freet whistled. "Now there's a warrior I wouldn't want to mess with!" he exclaimed. The abbot chuckled. "No you wouldn't. Know shall we continue?" Reluctantly Cassius followed him to Cavern Hole.

The team looked impressed as they sat down in some vacant seats. Redwallers near watched them with interest. The brigade was known to them, but they did not know much.

Soon they were laughing and talking as they ate. Thorn nudged Ash, nearly knocking him off of his seat. "This is even better than they say!" Ash smiled as he devoured some trifles. "Aye," he replied through a mouthful of food.

Soon Cassius related their tale and handed the message to the abbot. Dunbar looked at it for a moment before tucking it in his habit. "Now I can see you are tired. Mara will find you some extra rooms. Mara!"

Soon they were joined by a mousemaid. "Mara would you show them someplace to sleep?" the abbot asked.

She smiled and curtsied. "Of course father." Cassius nearly choked. Despite her simple attire Mara was the prettiest mousemaid he had ever seen. She flashed him a brilliant smile. "This way please."

Ash and Freet sniggered. Cassius glared and turned away before following. Mara led them to two rooms. The first had two beds perfect for Cassius and Freet. The second had a good sized bed for Ash and a massive one to fit Thorn.

Cassius smiled. "Thank you."

Mara winked at him, causing him to blush. "No problem." she walked away. Cassius lay in his bed. "Were you expecting a kiss?" Freet said. Cassius could tell he was smiling. "No", he replied grabbing a pillow. "Just this!" he flung it.

He was rewarded by a loud. "Ooof!" He smiled before closing his eyes.

Chapter 6: Reunion

It was a fine morning, even by Mossflower standards. Sunlight shone everywhere. On rocks, grass, and the sleeping forms of an otter and cat beneath a yew.

Rova squinted against the sunlight. He groaned at the realization that it was morning already. Reluctantly getting up, he wiped his eyes and picked up a scone.

Munching on it he clipped Atrax's ear. "Wake up mate. There's an abbey waiting for us." he said.

Atrax yawned, showing his fangs. "Fine, but when we get there I'm taking a nap and woe to the beast who says anything about it!" he reached into his sack, took a leg of roast pigeon, and began trudging along.

Rova threw a paw over his mouth to keep from laughing. Atrax heard, and stopped. "What is it?" he asked tiredly. Rova cracked up. "Redwall is that way." he chuckled, pointing behind him.

Atrax tried to look dignified. "Of course, I was just warming up."

"Oh sure." Rova said, rolling his eyes.

"Shut up."

And on that happy note they set off.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


It was an average afternoon in Redwall Abbey. For the moment Snow team was enjoying afternoon tea under an oak tree. Ash was quite pleased with himself. He had recently discovered he was excellent at cooking.

Soon he had been helping Friar Melman all day. The shrew(Melman) and Squirrel had been cooking all day. Mostly due to a massive amount of redwallers begging for more of Ash's cooking.

Cassius blinked. "This is the life." he said, content.

Freet was asleep. The young shrew had exhausted himself helping with the dibbuns. During that time he found out that he had a talent for dealing with young ones.

Now let's see what he can say about me now. Cassius thought smugly.

They started as the yell rang out. "Strangers at the gate!" Stumbling to grab weapons they ran to the wallgate. There they met skipper and the abbot.

Cassius squinted down at the two creatures below. One was a wildcat in slightly tattered finery and an otter. For some reason which he couldn't explain Cassius felt strange.

His thoughts were interrupted as Skipper called down. "What do you want!" he called to the figures.

The cat spoke. "We desire a place to stay and rest, if you would be so kind."

Skipper whispered to Cassius. "Do ye think we should let 'em in?"

"Aye," Cassius said. "We can have guards around them so there's no trouble."

Skipper nodded. "Open the gate!" he called.

As the gates opened Rova whispered to Atrax. "Showtime." Atrax merely nodded. As they walked in they were surrounded by mice and squirrels, all wielding makeshift weapons.

Rova kept his head down. He had seen Cassius, and wanted to surprise him. His heart beat faster as his old team approached. They seemed to have matured, Ash and Freet were much larger than before.

Cassius stopped pointing his mace at them. "You," he said gesturing with the mace at Rova. "Show your face."

Rova slowly lifted his head, before dropping his sack and leaping straight over them. Flipping in midair to face the other direction, he crouched on the soft grass before rising and throwing off his cloak.

As one the members of Snow Team gasped.

Rova grinned at them.

"Skor!" Cassius exclaimed.

"Not quite." Rova said happily.

"What?" asked Thorn in surprise.

"Call me Rova."

Chapter 7

In the Great Hall Rova related his tale. The abbeydwellers were awed, growing up in peace and only learning of battle and bloodshed through records gave them an even greater respect for warriors.

"So let me get this straight." Cassius said arching an eyebrow. "You were enslaved. Became a royal slave to this cat. No offense." he said apologetically to Atrax.

Atrax held up a paw to show he was not offended. "None taken."

"Thanks. So you were a royal slave, and then you escaped?"

"That's about it." Rova said.

"Wow." said Cassius, shaking his head.

"You just couldn't resist making us worry huh?" Asked Thorn.

"Nope."

Freet and Ash laughed.

"I guess he just likes adding a dramatic flair to things." Atrax said.

Cassius winked at him. "You don't know the half of it mate."

"Well sorry to interrupt but isn't it time for dinner?" Dunbar said. Shooing around dibbuns, everybeast started preparing. Everyone was hungry. And it's never good to have an abbey full of hungry beasts.

As they sat down Rova looked around. Where was Ash? Usually he was the first to try and get a bite. Turning towards Freet he asked about it.

Freet grinned. "You'll see."

Dunbar rapped the table to get their attention. "Now we will recite grace." he announced.

As we eat we thank our friends
   for this wonderful feast

Now we vow to stay steadfast and true

     to keep the peace Amen

"Amen" they repeated, and the food was brought out.

Rova had heard of the legendary Redwall food and had longed to taste it. Pasties, turnovers, shrimp'n hotroot soup. Salads and the famous Deeper'n ever pie.

Rova was piling his plate with most of these and washing it down with October ale and Strawberry Fizz. As he ate he noticed Ash serving.

"As yo wu coo?" he asked with his mouth full of Deeper'n ever pie.

"What?" Ash asked, looking confused.

Rova choked it down after swallowing some October ale. "I said, you were cooking? I never knew you were a chef!"

Ash blushed. "I never knew either until we came to Redwall." he admitted.

Rova laughed. " I'm not judging you! This is incredible tucker. Keep it up mate."

Freet nudged him. "Surprised?" the little shrew asked.

"You bet."

"That's why I didn't say. After all, it pays to have a dramatic flair? Right?" Freet grinned hugely.

Rova grinned and nudged him so hard that he fell of his chair. "Yes. . . it does."

Everybeast was happy. Laughing, eating, and talking. Only one was discontent. Thorn, the badger was feeling strangely sad.

Ash, who was sitting next to him was concerned. "Thorn mate, are you alright." Thorn jumped, he had not noticed his demeanor was so visible. "Uhh . . . I- I'm fine. I just need to think." He walked towards the orchard, leaving a nearly full plate behind.

Thorn kicked the grass savagely. What's wrong with me?" he thought angrily. Everyone was having a good time so why can't I?"

"You seem upset." Thorn whirled around with his hammer drawn. "Oh, it's you." he said.

Atrax leaned on the wall. "Yes it is. So what's wrong?"

"I don't know. It's just everyone in the abbey is one happy family. And, I don't know what that's like." Thorn admitted.

Atrax walked forward and put a paw on Thorn's shoulder. "I haven't known either. The last time my family was happy I was a babe."

Thorn was surprised. "It's just that . . . something is familiar about it all. I remember a hall with tables everywhere. Hares stuffing themselves in each one. Then I'm in a crib with two others and there are two badgers above us. One is massive, proud, and strong looking. The other is slender and beautiful. What does it all mean?"

Atrax seemed thoughtful. "Did you say a mountain with hares?"

"Yes I did."

"And . . . what is your name?"

"Thorn."

Atrax looked shocked. "Your name is Thorn? The Badger Lord of Salamandastron Rosethorn and Lady Alleria lost their son Thorn. They said he just vanished one day. Everybeast thought he was dead!"

Thorn was suddenly filled with joy. "So my father is a badger lord?"

Atrax nodded. "There is no doubt. You're the son of a badger lord."

Thorn ran past him. "Hey! Where are you going?" Atrax shouted.

"To tell!" Thorn shouted back.

Quickly he stopped in the hall, gasping for breath. "What is it?" asked Ash, alarmed.

Atrax quickly came up. "We've found out who his parents are!" he said quickly.

Rova stood up. "Who are they?" he asked excitedly.

Soon the other redwallers were asking.

"Who are they?"

"Tell us mate!"

"Who who?"

"Quiet you loud bunch!" Cassius roared. "Now. Who are your parents Thorn?" he asked in a much calmer tone.

At a nod from Atrax Thorn gulped. "My parents are the Lord and Lady of Salamandastron. Lord Rosethorn and Lady Alleria."

Chapter 8

"Are you sure?" asked Freet.

"Yes. There is no doubt. My father and mother are rulers! I must go!"

Rova rose. "You're not going anywhere without us."

Thorn smiled. "Of course."

They began preparing immediately. As Rova explained Thorn was too stubborn so they were leaving immediately. Before they walked past the gate they thanked the abbeybeasts for their kindness.

As they set off Rova noticed Atrax was coming.

"You too?"

"I wouldn't miss this for the world."

The first two days went without incident. On the third they left behind the woods and entered the plains. Atrax and Cassius particularly enjoyed the wind.

Cassius's fur moved around so much it looked like he was shedding. A fact Ash was only too willing to point out.

"Oh shut up." Cassius said, waving a paw.

Suddenly Rova stopped. "Shh! Do you hear it?"

Atrax's ears twitched. "I hear it too. Growling."

Rova held up a paw. "Circle up!" he whispered.

Slowly they formed a tight circle. Rova and Atrax unsheathed their swords. Freet nervously held out his dirk. Thorn assumed a stance with his hammer. Cassius held his mace loosely but ready for action. Ash nocked an arrow.

They waited a while before Freet pointed. "There! What are they?" Following his gaze they saw ten massive creatures charging at them. Black and brown, slobbering mouths, huge teeth, and stranger still they were barking. What was even more terrifying was that there appeared to be a rat on top of each holding a spear or a crude sword.

Atax gritted his teeth. "Dogs."

"Dogs?"

"They're huge monsters, very strong, but quite stupid. don't take any chances!"

"I'm not." said Ash. He aimed and fired.

A dog and its rider fell. An arrow lodged in the dog's cranium.

Ash took down another before they were set upon.

"Watch out!" yelled Rova rolling out of a particularly large dog's path.

Thorn dodged a snap from the dog's jaws. Ducking under a sword strike he swung his hammer. Sending the dog flying. The breath was knocked out of him as another crashed into him. He struggled with his paws wrapped tightly around it's teeth.

Cassius ran to help. Leaping out of the way as the rider threw his spear he dealt the unfortunate vermin a blow that crushed his skull. He struck at the dog's eye.

Enraged the creature attempted to rip him in half with it's claws, scoring a slash on his shoulder. Thorn grabbed his hammer and ended the monster with a strike to the skull.

"Thanks mate." gasped Cassius.

"No problem." Thorn replied before charging back into the fight.

Atrax was using his cape as bait for the wolf. "Lupo! Lupo!" he cried. This had better work. he thought.

Yes! The dog charged. A split second before he was struck Atrax danced to one side. His cape blinding the dog. As it passed he slashed at the rider, cutting him in two.

The dog rid itself of the cape. It's eyes filled with hate it leaped.

Sprinting at it Atrax ducked at the last moment. He slid under the creature. Waiting until he saw it's belly he stabbed upward. The dog howled in pain before dying.

Freet was having trouble. He had jumped on the back of a dog and he and the rider were dueling. The rat's spear was useless at close range. He realized this too soon as he was stabbed through the heart.

Freet pushed the dead vermin off. "Thank ye. HOW DO YOU STEER THIS THING?" Suddenly a reckless thought occured to him. "Please let this work!" he cried.

He stabbed his blade straight into the dog's head. The monster immediately went tumbling. Freet jumped off before he died. After waiting for the dust cloud to disappear he walked over and took his blade out of the monster's skull.

Rova snarled at his enemy. "Come on!" he had been sparring with this one for a while. This dog was larger and more clever than it's brethren.

Ash had already shot it's rider dead. Now it was between him and the wolf.

They charged each other. The dog swiped across Rova's cheek, leaving three long lines of blood. Ignoring the pain Rova retaliated by punching it in the snout and viciously stabbing through it's right foreleg.

Soon Rova's impressive sword skills came into play. Flourishing and spinning his blade he kept the dog at bay, managing to stab one of it's eyes.

The dog snarled with rage. Rova's eyes became filled with terrible light. His eyes were literally blazing, fire shone in them. Even his sword seemed to gleam with savage delight.

As the dog charged he unleashed a savage combo of punches ending with an uppercut so powerful the dog reared up on it's hind paws. The monster was even taller than Thorn! But Rova felt no fear, only bloodlust. Leaping forward he jumped up towards his enemy.

He swung his sword. Blood spurted along it's length. The dog fell. It's body landed near it's head.

Rova landed on his feet. The fire left his eyes. Sheathing his sword he turned to his friends. He was surprised to see them all staring at him.

"How did you do that?" asked Thorn awestruck.

Rova looked confused. "What do you mean."

"He means that you punched that thing harder than I've ever seen and you leaped high enough to slice it's head off." said Cassius.

"Wait." Thorn said. He seemed to know what was going on. "Rova how did you feel?" he asked.

Rova recounted the feeling. "I was full of adrenaline, and battle rage. Nothing could stop me. I was invincible."

Thorn looked unsurprised. "Rova, you're eyes were in flames. They were actually blazing. I think you have the Hellfire."

"Whats that?" asked Ash.

"Hellfire is a battle rage more dangerous than bloodwrath. And it is incredibly rare. Very few beasts have it. It is a lust for slaughter that increases the users strength tenfold. However it can drive you mad if you don't learn to control it."

Rova looked at his paws. "How - how could I have a power like that?"

Cassius put a paw on his shoulder. "Listen to me. It doesn't matter if you have some frightening affliction. You're still you. Don't ever forget that mate." he said very seriously.

"He's right. We're you're friends Rova, no matter what." said Ash, throwing Rova a thumbs up.

Rova smiled warmly. "You're right, now lets keep going."

They continued until it was night. Quickly eating whatever they chose they went to sleep.

Over the hills ahead the massive mountain was the massive fire mountain. little did they know how close they were.

Chapter 9

Rova awoke being shaken.

"Oi! Get off me!", he said irritably.

Freet held up his paws. "Sorry mate, he apologized.

Rova shrugged. "No matter. Sorry I snapped at you."

"It's fine."

The truth was Rova had not gotten much sleep. Brooding over his hellfire affliction, he felt as if he had barely closed his eyes before being woken.

Well, he thought to himself. I'm not going to be the only one who woke up too early. After he and Freet finshed stuffing their faces they woke the others.

To Rova's surprise Cassius was actually quite content to be woken so rudely.

"Is it morning already? Darn, feels like it's been five minutes", Ash yawned, stretching.

"Oh get over it".

"Already have", Ash said.

Freet and Rova waited while they ate. Immediately after they finished Thorn took the lead.

"Thorn! Wait up!", called Cassius.

Thorn ignored them. Rova exchanged a look with Atrax. "Well?"

"What?"

Thorn! he said in annoyance. "He's been obsessed with getting to Salamandastron ever since you revealed his parentage".

"Oh sorry for helping your confused friend find out about the parents he can't remember". Atrax said mockingly.

Rova craned his neck to the sky, snarling to himself. This is just one more test to overcome.

After catching up to Thorn they saw why he had rushed. There stood before a massive beach. And towering over everything, the massive mountain itself!

"Salamandastron", breathed Thorn.

They stared for a few moments, jaws agape, before moving again.

As they entered the beach immediately a horn sounded. Ash and Freet groaned. Thorn merely looked determined.

"Here we go". Cassius muttered.

A voice rang out. "Hold it right there"!

A score of hares wielding pikes strode towards them. In the lead was a massive badger, even larger than Thorn. Rova studied him. The badger wore a suit of armor. And in his hands were two incredible swords. Taking a closer look, Rova noticed he looked very similar to Thorn, the largest difference being this badger's eyes were green, while Thorn's were brown.

The badger looked them up and down. "Who are you"?

Thorn stepped forward his eyes shining. "Are you lord Rosethorn"?

Rosethorn studied him before answering. "Yes . . . I am".

Thorn's voice tremebled. "My name is Thorn. I - I'm your son".

Rosethorn had tears in his eyes. He embraced Thorn, then held him at arm's length. "My, you've grown. You were only a babe when we lost you". He looked over his son at the rest of Snow. "And who are these fellows"?

"I'm a member of the Freedom Brigade. These are my squadmates." He introduced each of them in turn.

Rosethorn waved a paw. "Enough talk. Come in. There are some beasts who would be excited to meet you", he winked slyly.

Thorn arm in arm, and every other beast entered the mountain. The massive chamber dominated the room. Filled with books and elegant furniture it was a sight to behold.

Rosethorn chuckled after hearing a gasp from Ash. "Impressive isn't it"?

Continuing they came upon a room. Inside were two other badgers. The two younger badgers stopped. One was male the other female. The male resembled Thorn, except he was thinner and slightly smaller. The female was even smaller, with rosy pink eyes and a happy air.

The male came forward. "Dad who are they"?

Rosethorn chuckled. "Slimblade, Rose, meet your brother Thorn"!

"What!?" they shrieked.

Thorn grinned awkwardly. They seemed to tackle him in their haste to meet him. Bombarding him with questions, they dragged him off to meet his mother, Lady Alleria.

Rosethorn turned to them. "Now that that's settled why don't you relax for a while"?

As they turned to leave Rosethorn beckoned to Rova. "I've been watching you. Rova is it"?

Rova nodded.

"Come with me."

Rosethorn led Rova into a massive chamber. Weapons were everywhere, swords and axes, a mace and chain, a long whip, and others.

"What do you need my lord"? asked Rova in an awestruck voice.

Rosethorn said nothing but suddenly struck at Rova. Drawing his sword in one swift motion, Rova blocked the attack.

His sword was battered aside. Rosethorn immediately took advantage, forcing Rova to duck. He wants to see how proficient I am, he realized.

Understanding, he unleashed his entire style. Parrying, slashing, stabbing, riposting, the cycle continued until they locked swords. The massive otter and badger struggled against each other for a moment before breaking away.

"Come! I know you have the hellfire. Unleash it!" Rosethorn cried.

How does he know? Rova wondered. Then he saw Rosethorn's eyes were filled with rosy pink flames. "Don't worry, I learned to control it". Rosethorn said calmly.

Rova relaxed. Then his eyes took on orange flames. Fully powered, the two beasts clashed once again. Rova was getting tired despite the rage fueling him.

Finally Rosethorn disarmed him after a clumsy thrust. Suddenly sheathing his blades he helped Rova up.

"How come your eyes weren't orange?" asked Rova tiredly.

Rosethorn looked at him carefully. "Hellfire is a terrible affliction I have it myself. But if you master the rage and power then true Hellfire occurs.

"What is that?"

"True hellfire is when you have complete control. You are even more powerful than when you are in a normal hellfire state. Also the flames in your eyes become a completely unique color."

Rova grinned, suddenly hopeful that his predicament wasn't so bad. Rosethorn noticed and laughed. "Well, you seem happy."

"Isn't it a good day?"

"Yes . . . yes it is."

Chapter 10

Flintlip was shaking with fear. The rat had been forced to go to Moria's tent after failing to capture a prisoner. The beasts were very intolerant of failure.

Moria was the son of Basta, the younger brother of the feared Gallette Gortus. Basta had poisoned his father before the great battle many seasons ago, ending up with Gorval being slain. Basta had been a cruel, bloodthirsty beast, but his son was something else.

Flintlip stood in front of the massive tent, just large enough to fit the wolverine's bulk. A voice from inside called. "Come in." Trembling he walked inside.

The interior was simple a lamp in one side and a mat in the other. Laying on the map was Moria himself!

He was a massive specimen, black furred, with red eyes, he struck fear into all. The eyes came to rest on Flintlip.

"Tell me." he said. "How exactly did you fail?"

Flintlip knew he had to lie. "It was Dethbrush the weasel! He tripped me yer lordship!"

Moria looked thoughtful. Flintlip shuddered as he saw Moria reach for his double bladed sword.

"It was Dethbrush?" he asked. Flintlip nodded.

Suddenly he pounced. Grabbing Flintlip by the neck, he slammed the unfortunate rat onto the ground. "Liar!" he growled. Then he spoke much more calmly. "Now tell me what happened. And if you lie to me again I will take you apart very slowly so you feel every moment of it."

Flintlip gasped. "It was my fault, the treemouse escaped us."

Suddenly releasing him he patted Flintlip. "Good, now run along. And if you ever get called here again I will see to it personally that you never fail again." he said menacingly.

Flintlip could hardly believe his luck. "Thank you Lord Moria, thank you very much!" he ran from the tent.

Wordlessly Moria rose and began sharpening his sword. Soon. he thought to himself. Soon the beasts will return, and we will be more powerful than ever!

Smiling, he went to sleep. Dreaming about stepping over the corpses of his enemies.

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