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The summer sun rose above the ocean shining brilliantly. Dawnreth woke and looked across the waters. She was a young badger, lithe and strong. Her pale gray eyes matched the color of the sea. There was a knock and her room door was opened by a shy mousemaid bearing a tray piled high with food.
- "Dawn, I brought thee thy breakfast, friend," she said, in her soft voice.
Dawnreth turned to her friend, Moonblossom, smiling, "Ah thank ye kindly, Moon. What hae we here? Enough vittlin' tae feed an army, I see." Moonblossom brought the tray to the little bedside table and set it down.
- "Tell, Mem Tulie mah thanks, there ain't no better cook than she, the noo!"
The young mousemaid smiled and left. Dawnreth sat on her bed and ate ravenously of the food Moonblossom brought. As she ate, her mind wandered over the events of the past ten seasons.
Her mother and father were from enemy clans yet they fell in love and were banished from both their clans, the enmity between their fathers was so great. They had taken to wandering and as Dawnreth grew up, nowhere was home to them for long before they moved on. When they found that her grandfather had died they decided to live there, for awhile at least, and were happy.
Then two seasons ago the wanderlust had taken them again and they disappeared; leaving Dawnreth in the care of the mice of Fort Longblade. many were the days she had looked out her window for their return in vain. Finally, a season ago she had stopped looking, stopped scanning the horizon with searching eyes when she woke every morning. But they were dead now. She had learned of it three seasons ago from a traveling squirrel. They had been slain by a horrible sickness across the northern seas. The squirrel had traveled with them for a season in that other land beyond the sea. But when the disease came only he had been able to escape by going to sea in a small boat, tossed by wind and wave to some lonely shore. From there he had traveled many seasons, going wherever his flute led him, through many small villages and glens, earning a bite here, a bite there as her parents had once done long ago.
Dawnreth tried as hard as she could to forget them, but still she would wake at night imagining her parents faces and loneliness would overcome her and she would sit weeping for hours until she had worn herself out and she would fall into a merciful, dreamless sleep.