Alone. Uggh how I hate that word. Ever since I have left the court of Tsarminia that is how I was until I became peaceable. You may be wondering why I left such a lofty place as the adviser to the Queen but it is explained in one word: Evil. Yes I may be a pine marten, which most beasts consider evil, but I am not that way. I may not be completely evil like everyone thought but maybe just a person who waned to be a winner. I did however see that ambition is worthless and have decided to become a peaceful traveler. I will start my story with when I left Kotir.
Book One: A New Name for a Traveler
It was a pleasant and sunny day for a disfigured pine marten that was hobbling south that day into Mossflower. The marten barely realized this because he was running. He was traveling at a good pace. If a one-legged pine marten can go at a good pace. He marched on silently and steadily for the rest of the day until he reached the banks of a broad stream. There he decided to make a camp and figure out where he was. As he was foraging he thought about the events that had driven him from Kotir. He also thought about how lonely he was since he had no one to talk to.
When he rose the next morning he decided to go East upstream and away from the coast which he had heard about as having fierce warriors which might kill him without asking questions. So East he traveled until he came upon a surprise. There was a little rise in the bank and on the other side of it he found a shrew village. Instinct told him that these were enemies so he should avoid them but since he had decided to be a peaceable traveler he decided to enter the village.
Before he could move there was a blade at his throat and a gruff voice said, "Get on with ye vermin or do I have to slay an unarmed beast"
The marten's first instinct was to cower and lie but he decided to be a peaceable creature and said, "I am but a poor traveler that does not want to be considered vermin anymore."
Another shrew came up to join the second one but this one said, "Hinjo let the poor beast alone. Can't ya see he ain't armed?"
"But chief he's vermin"
"Aye, and I'm a shrew. Didn't you hear what the beast said?" exclaimed the older shrew. "I for one will welcome him if he means what he says." Turning to the marten he asked, "What's your name sir?" The marten, overjoyed at having someone to talk to again said rather excitedly, "Thankee for calling me sir but I have no name right now. I did have a name once but it's a disgrace now."
"I see," said the shrew named Hinjo, "How about we name you Mosspaw since I notice a bit of moss stuck to your footpaw?"
"Sounds like a good name to me Hinjo, for that is your name isn't it?"
"Aye that's what it is Mosspaw the traveler. Welcome to the Guosim."
"Initials you see, stands for Guerilla Union of Shrews in Mossflower," said the older one.
"You look hungry," said Hinjo. "I'd be much obliged for a hot meal," replied Mosspaw. "Come on down to the village then, Guosim cooks are known throughout Mossflower for their culinary skills." This was how Ashleg the pine marten, former adviser to wildcats, got a new name and new friends who knew nothing about his past.
Later after a large supper of shrewbeer, cordials, and teas, supplemented by delicious carrot flans and a bilberry fruitcake, Mosspaw finally worked up his courage to ask what the name of the older shrew was. The shrew answered, "My name is Log-a-log. I am the chieftain of the Guosim just like my father before me and his father before him. When a shrew becomes Log-a-log he looses his former name or just adds it on to Log-a-log. The Guosim have always been warriors and we are that way to survive. There are many dangers along these banks so all shrews have a rapier and a sling. Some of the dangers that we face are some water rats for instance but they don't bother us too often. Also there is and eagle to the east but he only comes here to hunt when he has to." Log-a-log continued, "With that said I would like to invite you to come along on a patrol we are going to take to check on one of out outer colonies."
The next day Mosspaw wakened at dawn to find that three logboats had been packed with supplies during the night. Log-a-log then surprised Mosspaw by asking, "Are you by and chance skilled with a weapon?"
Mosspaw thought for a moment and then said, "I was always skilled with a bow but I'm a bit out of practice." Mosspaw said this because he had never used a weapon in his life because he had always been an adviser to the Warlords.
Log-a-log surprised him again by asking, "Would you mind doing a shooting exhibition?"
Mosspaw had seen enough bowbeasts shoot to at least fire straight. Mosspaw was handed a bow and a single shaft and was all ready to fire when he asked for a target. A shrew in the crowd said, "Can you hit that third knothole up that ash?"
Mosspaw tested the wind and fired. TWANG! The arrow zoomed up and hit the top edge of the knothole. Cheers rang out all around the clearing for apparently this was a common target for the shrews but had not been hit by and archer yet.
Later that morning the shrews and marten were well up the Great South Stream thanks to a paddling contest between the three boats. Around midday they stopped to eat a lunch of honeyed oat scones and had a desert of fruitcake with meadowcream atop it. It was at this time that a jealous archer shouted,”Archer? That marten ain’t an archer. I’ve seen better shots off of a squished toad. Twas beginners luck I say.” Mosspaw looked palely over at Log-a-log and said, “What he said was right. Is there any way I can get out of his challenge?” Log-a-log nearly fell over laughing before he straightened up and said, “Well if you are that much of a novice then there ain’t much harm in visiting a good yew grove to make you one the best bows ever laid eyes on.”
Mosspaw shook Log-a-log's paw."Thanks."
Log-a-log turned to Mosspaw and changed the subject."So, Mosspaw, where are ya plannin' to go next?"
Mosspaw had not thought of where he would go next. He shrugged."I haven't thought of that. Where are we heading now?"
Log-a-log looked upriver."We're headin' close to the Western Shores, near Salamandastron."
Mosspaw looked curiously at the shrew chieftain."Salamandastron?"
Log-a-log explained."Salamandastron is the fire mountain where a Badger Ruler an' the Long Patrol hares live."
Mosspaw stroked his chin for a minute while he thought to himself."Hmmmmmmm.....I think I want to be dropped off near the Western Shore."
That night, Log-a-log sat up after a dinner of oatbread and berry crumble, and took twine and beeswax out of a pouch he had. He tied the twine to a low, thick branch and started making a bowstring. As Log-a-log was doing this, a few shrewbabes came up to him.
"Can you tell usn's a stowy?" asked one babe.
The shrew decided to play along a bit first, and acted the part of a cruel leader. "Story? What makes ye think I'll tell naughty shrewbabes story's?" He said in mock anger.
His grandshrew scowled and slapped his paw "Wes aren't naughty Grandad!"
He immediately brightened up and said, "Oh alright! You've convinced me! Hmmm... What story do you want to hear? Oh wait I got a good un."
The shrewbabes quieted down, as the chieftain started his story. "This 'appened a long time ago, when the earth was young, and very few creatures roamed the surface..." shrews that had over heard sat down to listen also, and soon the whole Guosim village was sitting around their chieftain, listening to the old story being told...
"Well it started on a large island, named the Green Isle, Badgers, otters, squirrels, shrews and some mice all lived there. The badgers ruled Green Isle, an' one day when an old badger ruler died, a young, but very wise badger took 'is place. 'E was restless and wanted to explore the surroundin' waters, to see if there was any other land besides the one they lived on. All the beasts on the island thought it to be a great idea, but the otters were 'appy where they were. So the badger 'ad the shrews build a ship, big 'nough for all the beasts to fit on, but afore they set off on their journey, the badger made an ottermaid ruler o'er Green Isle. So after they set sail and were out on sea all the beasts came down with a sickness, they were all seasick, but because they had ne'er been out to sea before they didn't know this."
The shrewbabes giggled at this. "Heehee! Dey alls got seasicker! Heehee!"
"Shhhhhhh! Let Log-a-log continue!" Said one of the elders.
"As I was sayin' they all got seasick, but soon got used to the rollin' of the ship. On their journey they 'ad to fight off pirates and other vermin, some o' the goodbeasts died in the battles, but most of 'em that died were badbeasts. Soon they 'ad found land, and the mice decided to stay there, they said there farewells as all the other beasts left south along the shore. Next they came to a large river, some o' the shrews stayed there, then the squirrels were next to get off, an' then the badger was alone except for a couple shrews, they left when they found a nice spot to stay, 'en the badger was alone. But not for long because 'e came across a huge mountain, 'e left the ship and searched around the mountain and found a small door, an' there were 'ares, living there, 'e befriended 'em, an' they soon made 'im their leader. They dug out the mountain and made little rooms out of the rock. An' that's 'ow badgers came to Salamandastron an' ruled it!" he looked at the shrewbabes and said. "Now 'tis off to bed for ye, go on!"
The shrewbabes pouted and protested. "But wes not tired! Wes wanna 'nother stowy!"
"Alright 'en there was a giant evil rat an' eats little shrewbabes for snacks, if'n they don't go to bed when their saposed to it's a true story so ye better get to bed afore he comes to eat you!"
The shrewbabes scattered running to their beds, and faked being asleep.
After Log-a-logs stories he went over to Mosspaw and sat down beside him, and asked.
"So how'd ye like it?"
"Never heard that one before, but it was good." They sat in silence a few moments then Mosspaw asked. "Er, Log-a-log would you mind if I er, joined the Guosim?"
Log-a-log stared at him for a moment, then grinned. "Join the Guosim? Of course ye can join us mate! we'd be honored to call ye a member of our tribe! How 'bout we have us a feast tomarrer to celebrate?"
Mosspaw smiled. "Thank you Log-a-log, that sounds great!"
Log-a-log stood and called out to the other guosim who were now readying themselves for bed, with the exception of the sentries that were posted around the camp. "Guosim!! we have a new member of the tribe, Mosspaw! And to celebrate his membership we are gonna put on a feast, tomarrow morning so get up early to start the cookin' fires, and make a grand ol' feast fer our new member! And after the feast we pack up and head out." Log-a-log looked down at Mosspaw.
"Better get some rest mate, your gonna need it for tomorrows paddling."
BANG! BANG! BONG! BOOM!! Mosspaw woke with a start, he looked up to see a small shrewbabe atop him. The babe was hitting a little pot with a wooden spoon, he stopped only to yell out.
"Wakey up Mr. Mossypaws sir! Brekkist time!! Don wanna be late or it'll be alla goned!" the babe continued banging the pot until Log-a-log came by with a large wooden padle, waveing it threateningly.
"Grumble! Get off of the poor beast!! Shoo! afore I give ye a whack wid my paddle!"
The babe scambled off Mosspaw, dropped the spoon and pot then raced off to find a place to hide, Log-a-log gave one last wave of the paddle then walked over to Mosspaw, "Sorry 'bout that mate, youngsters these days eh? Here let me help ye up, then we can go get some brekkist."
Log-a-log helped Mosspaw up then they started walking towards some tables that had been set up. shrews were busily mixing and cooking for the feast later that afternoon. They reached a table and both sat down, Log-a-log pushed a platter of warm rolls, and a tankerd of ale. "Here, have some o' this. I'll be right back."
Log-a-log got up and walked over to a tent and went in. Mosspaw took a roll and bit into it, and chewed slowly as he thought of what he would do when they reached the western shore. He washed the roll down with a swig of the ale, just as Log-a-log returned. The shrew set down a new bow, and a full quiver of arrows, Mosspaw dropped his roll as he gasped at the exepertly made bow and arrows. Log-a-log pushed them closer to Mosspaw.
"Here, your bow's finished, you like it?"
Mosspaw picked it up as he replied. "It's wonderful!"
Such a bow was never seen on the face of the world. The yew was strong and supple and had been oiled and polished till it shone. Also a quiver of perfectly straight arrows lay next to the bow. Each one tipped with a sharp piece of flint and with a gray and black goose feather each.
Mosspaw held the bow with awe that almost matched reverence. "Try it Mosspaw. I want to see how good a job our tribe did."
The marten drew an arrow and peered down the shaft. Perfectly straight. He set the arrow to the bow and managed not to forget to ask for a target.
"We knew you’d ask that. How about that fake wildcat doll over there."
Mosspaw took aim. He was about to fire when the wildcat moved. "Traitor!" it screeched. "Vermin are supposed to kill woodlanders not join them!"
The wildcat disappeared and Mosspaw shot the doll with perfect accuracy despite his shaking paws. Darkness closed around the marten and he fainted.
Mosspaw awakened to the sounds of a feast. Hinjo sat nearby. "How ya doing messmate? You fainted this morning after firing a perfect shot. What happened?"
"Nothing. I’m alright. Is that a bilberry scone I smell?"
"Aye. We kept the feast going to celebrate the new bow and your membership."
"The feast is still going?"
"Guosim cooks are the best in Mossflower, they made enough for three days. Try some shrewbeer."
"Thank you, um, messmate."
Mosspaw though to himself, Verdauga or Tsarmina never fed their troops this well. No! I’ve left Kotir. No thinking about it.
Before Mosspaw even took a bite of the delicious bilberry scone he had in his hand Log-a-log stood up and said, "Guosim, we’re moving out! Mosspaw you may eat while we move but everyone else start packing!"
With this statement the camp became a hive of activity. In a relatively short time the logboats were packed and the Guosim tribe was speeding downstream.
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