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Book one. Blood
It was everywhere. It splattered the grass, it covered the ground, and it turned the stream red. Blood…. Folgrim woke with a start. Just a dream, a nightmare. As he pulled his tunic on he thought hard. This was the third time in a row he had had this dream. Was there more to the blood? Was it something in his past, or was it something that would come true? He shuddered. Maybe it was both. Folgrim stared out his one good eye at the room surrounding him. It was filled with beds, all with sleeping Abbey dwellers. He smiled as he saw a tiny squirrel babe sleeping peacefully in a bed which made the babe look smaller than reality. Folgrim felt a pang of envy. They could all sleep without worry of dreams haunting they’re waking moments. He stepped into a quiet hallway and descended some steps. He turned to an even greater hallway and stepped into a looming space, filled with tables and chairs. He walked until he reached a set of large doors and opened them quietly. Seasons forbid he wake the others and have Bella the badger mum scolding him for lack of respect of other beasts slumber. As he stepped into the abbey grounds he saw Martin sitting on an upturned wheelbarrow. The mouse beckoned to him and motioned him to sit beside him. Folgrim obliged and sat on the wheelbarrow on Martin’s right side. The mouse smiled at him. “Morning Fol. You’re up early.” Folgrim gave him a crooked smile.
“Aye; hard to sleep with that lot snoring. Beautiful out, ain’t it?” the Warrior mouse smiled at the burly otter.
“Very. I was hoping to get some quiet before Beau gets out of bed.”
“Oh, am I intruding?” the mouse shook his head.
“Not at all friend! You don’t talk with all the wot wotting and so on.” Martin sighed, and then turned to Folgrim.
“I heard Columbine in the kitchens on my way out. Better help with cooking before Gonflet and his cronies decide its breakfast!” he helped Folgrim up and the two friends walked toward the abbey. Folgrim turned to Martin suddenly, and asked:
“Martin, did you ever fall in love?” Martin thought a moment before replying
“After the wounds I received I don’t remember much. But I think I think I did at one point. Did you fall in love Fol?” Folgrim was quicker with his answer.
“Yes. That’s how I got my wounds.” Martin blinked at him.
“Why don’t you tell me what happened?” Folgrim nodded.
“When it’s lunch, call the others together and I’ll tell you then.”
“Who’s the others?” asked Martin.
“Beau, Gonff, Columbine, Dinny, Abbess Germaine, Bella, Skipper, Lady Amber, and of course, you, mate.” Martin nodded. As they headed toward the kitchens, Folgrim knew the Dream was a memory, one that he had hidden in his mind for far too long. The Kitchens where mostly empty except for a mouse wife and a little Squirrel dibbun. The tiny squirrel lunged at Folgrim.
“mista Fol!” Folgrim pretended to stagger under the little babe’s weight.
“Chugger ye little rogue! I thought you were asleep in bed! You coming in here to help cook or to steal something eh?” the little squirrel wrinkled his nose in thought then threw both his arms wide and cried
“Both!” Folgrim laughed and took Chugger to the cupboard.
“So, what do ye feel like stealing?”
“Alrighty then, what type?”
“Blueberry!” Folgrim pulled all the ingredients out and started to work. Chugger dumped the blueberries into the mixture and then stirred it with gusto. Folgrim noticed Martin working on a fruitcake with Columbine. He saw him lean over and whisper something in her ear. Columbine cast a glance at Folgrim, her eyes wide with surprise. Folgrim turned back to Chugger and took the bowl he was offering. And ladled a little onto the pan. It sizzled and popped as it cooked and soon Folgrim flipped it over. Martin walked toward Folgrim.
“I told Columbine. She wanted to know why a select few have been chosen to listen.” Folgrim sighed.
“It’s not for the smaller ears.” Martin nodded and went to place the fruitcake in the oven. When the pancakes where done he handed them to Chugger.
“Now remember to share those with your pals!” he called after the retreating Chugger. The little squirrel smiled. He couldn’t wait to tell the others that they had a new story they could listen to.
Lunch time came soon enough. Everyone that Folgrim had requested was gathered around in cavern hole. Little did they know that a small group of dibbuns were huddled around the door, listening keenly. Folgrim began his tale.
A band of vermin stepped up a hill toward a tree enclosed area. They dragged along an unconscious otter. When they reached their destination they dumped the beast beside a tree and chained his feet in shackles then rapped the remaining chain around a tree. A pretty female otter, chained in the same fashion, waited for the Vermin to step into a tent before dragging herself toward the injured otter. She stoked his face, wishing that she had herbs with which she could heal him. The otter woke groggily and blinked at her.
“Who are ye? Where am I?” the otter maiden spoke softly, not wanting to be over heard by vermin.
“My name is Tina Dawnshadow. You are in the camp of the Torturers.” The male otter extended a paw and she shook it.
“The names Folgrim. I left my Holt for a short time and then I got whacked over my head. I wake up and I’m chained here. Tell me, Tina, what exactly happens here?” The female otter snorted.
“Hmm. Let’s think. What on earth can happen in a Torturers camp?” Her voice was dripping with sarcasm. she cocked her head as though deep in thought. Folgrim flinched.
“Sorry I asked! I’m just a little groggy, that’s all.” Tina became more sympathetic.
“I wish I had some herbs! You see this?” she indicated a scar over her muzzle “they gave that to me a long time ago. And did they so much think as to give me some herbs? No! The herbs are for their lot and not for the victims!” she sighed.
“Just lie down for awhile and your headache will go away.” Folgrim lay down without question. He heard footsteps coming toward him. Startled he looked up. He saw a female pine martin staring at him. She was surrounded by three guards. She inspected him from her position. She gave a grim smile. Folgrim heard Tina snarl.
“He’ll do nicely!” she turned to Folgrim. “I plan to pay a visit to your Holt, otter. It would be good of you to tell us where it is. And I’m asking politely.” She pulled out a cutlass from her belt and licked it. Her eyes where smiling; Taunting him to shout at her or give her an excuse to hurt him. He bared his teeth.
“I’ll never tell you anything vermin!” Tina gave a little grin of pleasure. It quickly changed to a look of horror as the pine martin said:
“Take him to the tent.” Tina glared at her mortal enemy and cried:
“If you want to torture him you’ll have to torture me too!” The pine martin slapped Tina’s cheek and grabbed her neck so Tina was forced to look into her eyes. Spittle flew in Tina’s face as the Pine martin yelled
“I am War Queen Azmoedus, Leader of the Torturers! If you speak to me, speak with respect scum!” Tina’s mouth was bleeding but she spat out insolently
“Alright, respectful scum!” Azmoedus was about to give full force of her wrath at Tina but they were interrupted by a male pine martin walking toward them. He spoke.
“My Queen, Will you attend us?”He gestured toward the tent. Azmoedus gave Tina a final kick before replying.
“You know how I love to watch you work Rathenghar. But I have a little pest control problem I have to deal with. I’ll join you later.” The male nodded and gestured to the guards and they dragged Folgrim toward the tent. Folgrim was aware of Tina’s yelps and cries as he was dragged into the tent. The inside of the tent was full of strange and frightening looking instruments. They all looked like they could do some damage. There was a sort of fire place, with was in full blaze. Folgrim saw where they were taking him. It looked like a wooden Table, only it had leather straps, to keep the victims on place. He was strapped roughly to it by two rats, and Rathenghar gave him an evil smile.
“You will soon know the meaning of pain Otter. But first, we give you a chance to give us the information, and save you the grief. Where is your Holt?”
Folgrim squeezed his eyes shut. Was it worth it? Yes. He opened his eyes and glared defiance at the male Pine Martin.
“I’ll tell you nothing you flea-ridden scum!”
“The best way to learn is by getting a lesson I suppose. Reith, bring me the iron tongs. Nice and hot if you please.” One of the rats grabbed a pair of metal tongs with wooden handles, and stuck them in the flames until they where red-hot and handed them to Rathenghar. It was then that Azmoedus entered the tent. Her pure white tunic was flecked with blood and she looked miffed. She smiled when she saw Rathenghar with the tongs.
“Good! Let’s begin!” Folgrim closed his eyes and braced himself for the pain.
Folgrim was dragged back to the tree and shackled to it. He was panting and gasping from the pain he had endured. When the vermin left he sat up and vomited. He was dimly aware of Tina lying face down in the grass right next to him. When he had finished retching he saw Tina lift her face from the ground. Her nose was bleeding and one eye had swollen shut. She spoke her voice heavy with rage and contempt.
“I hate her!” she spat out blood. Folgrim nodded and said his piece
“Ye should have seen her standin’ over me and smilin’ while they was torturin’ me! The lily livered slime ridden scum!” there was an awkward silence. Then Folgrim decided to change the subject.
“Were there any other slaves here besides us?” Tina sat up and wiped blood from her nose and was silent for a moment. Then she spoke.
“There was a hare that was here when I arrived at this camp. He was chained up exactly where you are now. His name was Starshine. He was as old as the hills and he might as well have been one, what with all the dirt that was clinging to his fur. He’d been here most of his life. He was like a very old father to me, and He died under questioning. He loved me like my father never did. My father favored my twin sister. When she died, my father blamed me. We got into a row and I ran off. I loved my sister very much and was also desperate to prove myself to my father. I’m a bit of a hot head as well.” Tina gave a weak smile before continuing. “I went looking for the vermin that had murdered my sister. I Ran into the Torturers instead. That was seven seasons ago. I’ve been here ever since.”
Folgrim was silent. He felt sorry for the young otter maiden sitting next to him, who was now staring at the sky as evening drew in. She had been through then Folgrim had. But he would probably end up having been through more than she had if he stayed to long at this place. Suddenly Folgrim decided that if anybeast harmed the pretty otter they would pay tenfold! He held out his paw solemnly to her and said.
“I’ll get the two of us out of here Tina. Here’s me paw and here’s me heart on it!” Tina grinned and clasped firmly.
“Or I’ll get the two of us out of this mess! And when we get out of these chains we’ll give these vermin blood and vinegar! I swear on my holt, Holt Silverstone!” And they shook on it.
The days passed uneventfully. For Tina that is. Tina didn’t miss being Tortured at all , but she felt sorry for Folgrim who would be dragged back at the end of the day panting and gasping. He had stopped vomiting, probably, because there was nothing to throw up. When Tina had told him just yesterday that they wouldn’t be fed by the Vermin, but would have to eat grass and insects that would pass by he’d become highly indignant.
“Eat BUGS?! Wot are ye a bird? I won’t be caught dead eating a beetle or fly! Ye couldn’t pay me all the hot root soup in the world to eat anything with six legs! Uh uh! No way!” Tina had glared at him.
“alright then! Die of starvation! But when your just skin and bones and ye start crying for my help I’m just gonna laugh and laugh! Have some grass! I saw some dandelion shoots over there by the stream.” They were chained up right next to a little side stream so water was no problem. But food? That was a different story. As Folgrim was shackled up to the tree again, he just stared into space glumly. Tina was chewing on an ant she had caught and watched her friend pant and gasp for a moment, before pulling out some clover leaves she had gathered. She handed them to him.
“Thought you might be hungry” he stared at the clover which she had dumped on his stomach before looking up at her and saying.
“Tina, how can ye put up with all this? Can’t ye at least try to free yourself? Ye don’t try to do anything! Why?” Tina turned her back on him not answering. She knew he was still hurting from humiliation and from being tortured, but she didn’t feel like answering. How could she? It was hard for her to admit to anybeast she had given up on all hope. She saw a tear splash on the ground. She wiped a paw over her eyes. She barely heard Folgrim
“Tina?” he pulled himself up and put his paw on her shoulder.
“Hey, I didn’t mean- Tina snapped at him suddenly
“You think I like this? You think I haven’t tried? Why don’t you try to escape? I haven’t seen you try to escape since you came here! So don’t go and beat on me about something you haven’t tried to do you filthy hypocrite!” Folgrim drew back his paw as though bitten. He had no idea what to say. Then he flared up at her.
“Oh yeah? Well I haven’t seen ye even act as though you care about whether ye live or die! If ye want to avenge your sister so much, why don’t you try to attack the vermin when they come to drag me away? And wot about the times they tortured you? I bet you just let them drag you along like a rag! Probably cause you’re a coward! That’s why!” that was the last straw for Tina she whirled about and snarled
“I haven’t seen you try to attack the vermin when they drag YOU away! So who are you calling a coward? I don’t think you’ve so much as lift a claw when they drag you off!”
Unbeknown to the otters, War queen Azmoedus and Rathenghar where watching them with smirks on their faces, Rathenghar turned to Azmoedus.
“You where right my queen. There they are fighting like a couple of little children! Want me to break it up?” the Pine Martin shook her head.
“Leave them awhile longer. I want to see how they get along now.” The two otters had stopped fighting but where not looking at each other and soon both fell asleep, still seething at each other.
Tina thrashed in her sleep. In her dreams she was watching a fox raise a cutlass laughing maniacally as Tina’s sister twitched, blood pouring from her wounds. Tina struggled against the vermin pinning her on the ground. Their cruel laughter echoed in her mind as the fox brought his sword crashing down; stopping her sister’s death throes for good. The fox turned to Tina and cried
“Tina! Tina! Tina you bloomin’ idiot, wake up!” Tina woke with a start. Folgrim was looking down at her, his face a mask of annoyance. He had her pinned to the ground on her back.
“Ye nearly killed me with your rudder! Wot the heck were you doing? Trying to imitate a fish out of water?” Tina glared at him miserably and pushed his paw off, and said
“Nightmare. That’s all. Go back to sleep.” He grunted and flipped over so his back faced her as he lay down. Tina lay back down. She blinked up at the starry sky, before turning her head towards Folgrim.
“Let’s not fight any more. Okay?” Folgrim looked up and faced her. The stars reflected in her eyes. He spoke softly
“I’m sorry for wot I said. I didn’t mean it; really. I was just- Tina put a finger on his lips, silencing him, and hissed looking out of the corner of her eye.
“Don’t talk. Were being watched. No, don’t look where I’m looking. Just keep your head down and speak quietly. Understood?” When Folgrim nodded she withdrew her paw and spoke gently
“Now what was it you where saying?” Folgrim hissed softly.
“I was saying I was just still smarting from being tortured. I didn’t mean any of that.” Tina nodded. “I’m sorry too. I shouldn’t have snapped like that. But you kind of hit a tender spot. But, I mean, right now, we’re all we’ve got. It seems pointless to fight.” Folgrim nodded.
“I know... We’re not going to get anywhere snapping at each other… Let’s get some sleep.” They both fell asleep, feeling better now that their quarrel was made up for.
Tina was having another nightmare…
Tina’s dad stood over her yelling into her tear-stained face
“You’re a coward Tina!!!! A good for nothing coward! Your sister is now dead because of your cowardice!” Tina shouted back infuriated at her father’s unfairness
“There was nothing I could do!! They held me down!! I-
“I don’t care Tina! Leaf is now dead, because you were to afraid to fight back! That’s the way it is for you!!” Tina’s mother was cowering in a corner of the tent, as all of the Holt listened from where they were… The row was loud enough, everybeast could hear without trying… and none of them wanted to listen.
“I am ashamed to call you my daughter! You sniveling, lily-livered, good for nothing, worm!” Tina’s mother cut in.
“Reg; please. Listen to what she has to say. You don’t know what you’re saying-
Reg turned on his wife
“Nothing that daughter of yours says is worth listening to! Nothing but lies! LIES!!!!!”
“How can you say that Reg!!? You never even saw what happened!!” Tina didn’t stay to hear the rest. She slipped quickly out the tent flap and raced through the camp. Her best friend, Daroc, followed her calling:
“Tina, wait!” Tina hardly heard. She couldn’t see where she was running, for the tears clouding her vision. She came to a large stone and tapped it twice with her sword hilt. It rolled away as if by magic. Before she could slip out, Daroc grabbed her shoulder.
“I’m coming with you Tina.” Tina hung her head before looking up. There was a fire in her gaze that made Daroc step back.
“No Daroc, you’re not. I need to show my father I’m not a coward, once and for all. And I’ll do it alone” Daroc didn’t speak; he pulled a silver amulet off his neck, and handed it to Tina.
“Then take this to remember me by. And if there is a chance you won’t come back, I just want you to know…” he stopped, took a deep breath, and then said.
“I just want you to know I love you” Tina stopped, stared at him, and then with a little sob, threw her arms around him. Daroc blinked, then kissed her, and whispered sadly into her ear
“Be safe. Please be safe” Tina broke away from him and said firmly
“I’ll come back, I promise. Once I find the scum who killed my sister, I’ll come back.” Her voice then became angry.
“But hear me now; I will no longer carry my father’s name. I will no longer be called Streambattle…. My name is now Dawnshadow. Remember that!” then she ran out the opening. Daroc raised a paw in farewell, and whispered to the retreating figure.
“Goodbye… Tina Dawnshadow… May Fate favor you.”
Tina woke miserably. She had slept late, and Folgrim was gone. However she could hear his screams coming from inside the tent. Aye; there had once been a time in her life when Daroc had been the only thing she had thought of....but now… She stared miserably into the stream. Two days after she had left her Holt, she had found Daroc. He had been lying flat on his back; his heart torn out of his chest. She had run from the scene in pure shock. Who would have killed Daroc? This she did not know.
She saw Rathenghar the pine martin, and felt a burst of boldness. She lightly stroked the leaf shaped amulet Daroc had given her before shouting out
"Hey scumbrain! Fancy a chat? I bet I have more words in my vocabulary, you worthless, stupid, rotten waste of fur!" the Male pine martin turned to her, a snarl on his features, but just then Azmoedus strode coolly out of the tent, calling:
"Ignore her Rathenghar! She is merely trying to bait you!" Rathenghar stamped his paw disgustedly, stepping aside as they dragged an unconscious Folgrim to the tree and chained him up. Tina grinned as the male vermin waited for Azmoedus to leave before he strode over to her and slapped her swiftly and smartly. Tina doubled over and looked up, the grin had vanished.
"You shouldn't have done that Rathenghar…" The pine martin raised his flail, and said, his voice as cold as ice.
"You’re no use to the Torturers any more, Tina Streambattle." Tina shielded her head with her arms, waiting to feel death claim her. He was about to swing the death blow, that would have finished Tina, when Folgrim, woke up. With a roar of fury he lunged at Rathenghar knocking the flail out of his paw. Rathenghar gave a cry of shock as Folgrim, pinned him to the ground and punched him for all he was worth, then he flung the pine martin away from him, saying:
"Go. Go now or I’ll kill you!" Rathenghar fled, thinking to himself: "Oh no Folgrim…It is you who will be killed." Folgrim turned to Tina
"Ye all right matey?"
"Yeah Fol... I’m fine, but...promise me something will you?"
"Sure, anything ye ask…"
"Promise me you won't do anything stupid, like that for me again." Folgrim grinned and put an arm around her.
"Your wish is my command, me beauty!" Tina closed her eyes. I wish I could hold him like this forever, she thought. But how long will this last before one of us is killed?
Folgrim sat watching the tent that many beasts before him had been tortured in. He felt pure hatred and a sickening longing to burn it with the rest of the camp. He hardly noticed Tina scoot over to him and watch the vermin rush about. Her voice startled him.
"They look like they'd be helpless without their two leaders to keep them in order, don't they?'
Folgrim nodded his head sadly. ‘‘And I'd feel pretty helpless without you Tina, he thought sadly, but he said nothing. Tina pointed to a rat with a fancy sword.
"See that sword? That was mine before he took it from me. My mother gave it to me for my birthday."
Folgrim turned his head to her.
"Tina, do ye know any songs? I'd like to hear one right now. I feel like all hope is being drained from me, and a song might cheer me up."
Tina complied, singing a song her mother had taught her in bygone seasons
"The seasons come the seasons go"
“‘‘The earth moves round the sun"
“‘‘The clearest day turns into night and then becomes"
“‘‘The day once more"
"circles ever turning, round and round and round again"
“‘‘No beginning, never ending, on and on, they spin!"
"A traveler visits distant shores, and then comes home,"
“‘‘Comes home again!"
"Circles ever turning! round and round and round again!"
"no beginning, never ending on and on! they spin!"
Neither of them had noticed Azmoedus and some of her beasts talking together while Tina had been singing. Folgrim turned to Tina, but before he could speak Azmoedus and her warriors marched over, there was a cold Evil glint in her eyes. Before Folgrim or Tina could move Azmoedus had a knife to Tina's throat.
"I'm going to ask you one last time…Where is your Holt located? Tell me and I may spare her life…"
Tina was looking at Folgrim with terror on her face. But he could tell by her eyes she was begging him to do no such thing. But Folgrim couldn't risk losing her. He couldn't! Folgrim raised his bowed head to Azmoedus.
"I'll tell you. But please, don't kill her, I'll do anything!" Azmoedus nodded.
"Alright Otter, just tell me where your Holt is, and I won't kill her, my honor as a War Queen." Knowing he was the worst traitor in the world, Folgrim told her. Azmoedus nodded firmly.
"Good." Azmoedus dropped Tina and flicked her tail toward her. A huge weasel padded forward and thrust his spear, stabbing Tina in the gut. Tina stared in horror at the spear that protruded from her stomach, before her eyes dimmed and she slumped to the ground, blood oozing out of her mouth.
Azmoedus turned to Folgrim, her eyes emotionless.
"You see? I did not kill her!"
Tungro sat outside his Holt, breathing in the scents of the forest. He sighed sadly. Two seasons and Folgrim hadn't been back. He was beginning to worry. He jumped as he felt a soft paw slide on his shoulder, but it was only Petal, the young otter maid whom he'd befriended since Folgrim's absence.
"Still worried about him?" she asked. Tungro only sighed. Petal sat beside him, then spoke again
"Fol's a fighter, he'll find his way back, and I promise you! He was never one to just die."
Tungro turned his head to her.
"I love you Petal…I'm sorry I've been a Wet Whiskers, but I miss my brother. Ye’d feel the same way wouldn't ye?"
After getting over the shock of what Tungro had just said, Petal shook herself, feeling her cheeks grow hot, but she answered readily.
"I reckon I'd feel the same way if I had a sibling, and you haven’t been a Wet Whiskers! You’ve taken it better than some of the others!"After some hesitation, Petal leaned against him and gave him a kiss on the cheek. They sat like this for some time, suddenly Tungro leaped up, unbalancing Petal. She righted herself quickly and hopped up to see what Tungro was pointing at. A speck could be seen, hobbling in the distance.
"What in the Fires of Inle, is that?" Petal hissed
"Looks like...IT IS!!! IT IS! IT'S FOL!"
And it was, hobbling along on unsteady legs, came Folgrim, breathing strangely as he reached the clearing by the stream. Tungro's whoops became a drawn out gasp as he saw closely what Folgrim looked like. His paws where mangled to being almost useless, one eye was missing, and he was covered in ghastly scars, Tungro rushed to his brother (Petal hung back looking quite awkward). Folgrim looked up and grinned and reached a paw out.
"Hello Tung. Wot’s up?" Folgrim stumbled, looking slightly weakened and some of his wounds still oozed blood. Then, Folgrim fainted.
Tungro sat beside Petal on the bank again, listening to her report with a look of sickened fascination written on his face.
"He isn't eating anything, says, he'll catch his own food. And Tung, I saw him Filing his teeth!"
Tungro sighed and leaned back with a groan.
"So where is he now Petal?"
"That’s what I wanted to talk to you about! He left following a trail of vermin footprints we found yesterday!"
Tungro jumped up clasping his javelin.
"Well let’s go see where he’s off to then... But by the Flames of Inle, he'd better not be doing what I think he's doing!"
It was not hard to see where Fol was headed, his trail could have been followed by a blind beast, and they could see long coils of smoke, rising above the trees. Tungro poked his head through some bushes, made a choking sound, and drew back nodding grimly.
"Stay put Petal, this isn't something you should see." he stepped out the bushes, Petal heard the sounds of a light scuffle before Tungro returned holding a grinning Folgrim by the arm. Folgrim nodded politely to Petal, but Tungro sighed and shoved his brother against a tree.
"What’s made ye this way Fol? You think that what you're doin' is right? That’s not right, it's vile! What have ye got to say for ye'self eh?"
Folgrim shrugged and grinned. All his teeth had been filed to sharp points and blood was stained on them.
"Let’s face it Tung, I ain't changing my ways and you ain't changin' yores. I'm doin wot I need to do and you do what you should do. We ain't changin."
Tungro released his brother with an exasperated sigh.
"Fol, the rest of the Holt terrified of ye...I’ve even had two worried mums coming to me wanting me to remove you for the sake of their children. You leave me no choice mate… I’m gonna have to ask you to leave." without a word, Fol turned and left in the opposite direction of the Holt.
Folgrim remembered everything that had happened after Azmoedus had had Tina slaughtered.
Folgrim’s anguished scream pierced the vermin ears. Azmoedus and her mate, Rathenghar however stood firm, smirking maliciously as Folgrim sobbed into his knees. Tina’s broken form lay against the tree, with the chain still around her ankles. Azmoedus jerked her head in the corps direction, and pointed to a couple of ferrets.
“You two! Remove the remains from my sight and burn it like the filth that it is!”
The two ferrets nervously looked into the direction of the sobbing otter. Folgrim looked up. His eyes were red-rimmed, and a fury as they had never seen seemed to glow from them. They didn’t want to go near him, but it was either that, or face torture from Azmoedus… they’d take the otter. They inched toward the body of Tina cautiously. One (the youngest) gave the otter a sympathetic look, before starting to unwind the chain from Tina’s ankles. The older one gave a grin of pleasure.
“Azmoedus sure knows how to get rid of scummy little water-worms don’t she?” It was then that Folgrim snapped.
He grabbed the older ferret and sunk his teeth into his neck. The younger one screamed in terror and tried to flee, but Folgrim swiped at his feet with a paw, knocking the ferret over. The young ferret gave a moan of fear, but knew this was going to be a lot less painful than being tortured to death. But Folgrim did not kill him. He grabbed the ferret’s spear and kicked the confused beast away. The other vermin had overcome they’re shock. They lunged at Folgrim, their swords flashing in the sunlight. Azmoedus screamed orders till she was practically blue in the face. Folgrim raised his spear and hacked at his chains with unnatural strength and fury. He barely felt the vermin’s swords cutting at his back. The chain snapped, and he was free! He whirled about stabbing and thrusting with the spear. He saw what he was after: the rat with Tina’s sword. He gave a roar, and lunged through the sea of vermin, seeking his target. He thrust the spear threw the rats neck, and it snapped at an odd angle. He swept the sword out of its sheath, and one paw holding a spear, the other holding Tina’s sword. Tina…. I’m so sorry. The grief and rage was too much. He stabbed with the spear, and hacked with the sword. Vermin fell, and Folgrim stepped over their bodies. Then he saw who he was looking for. Azmoedus stood away from the battle yelling orders, her broadsword unsheathed, she was holding it with one paw, her other paw clasping Rathenghar’s paw, her eyes full of terror. Folgrim lunged at a weasel who screamed in his grasp, and struggled, Folgrim hacked his head off with a snarl. Then a stoat lunged at him and hit Folgrim’s eye with a machete. Folgrim screamed and clutched his face. He would never be able to use that eye again. He let go of his face and looked at the stoat with a snarl on his face. He leapt at the stoat and thrust the spear into the vermin’s heart. Azmoedus was looking desperate but she was standing there as though she had nothing to fear. Folgrim suddenly felt everything, the wounds, his scars, his hunger, his grief and anger. He was weak… they would be able to overpower him; But not without a fight. Kill Azmoedus and it would all be over… yes; he must kill her. He struggled, killing vermin, or wounding them. He must reach the root of his misery. Revenge for Tina’s death!
Azmoedus felt a wave of fear. He was coming for her, and none of her warriors could stop him! She desperately raised her broadsword, she must slay him, or he would kill her! Her purple cape flapped in the breeze and her snow-white tunic fluttered feebly. Rathenghar whispered in her ear.
“I’ll stay by you my queen… I will not leave you.” She felt better. Rathenghar was there for her. This would not be a losing battle. Folgrim had reached them.
Folgrim threw the spear away from him. He would kill her with the sword of her last victim… she would pay! He and Azmoedus dueled, he with one eye missing and full of cuts, she unharmed. Rathenghar raised his flail, waiting for the chance to help. Folgrim and Azmoedus swords clashed, and the ringing of metal on metal rung on the air. Even Azmoedus warriors had stopped trying to get at the otter to watch. Folgrim suddenly knocked Azmoedus down and raised his sword for the death blow, when Rathenghar hit one of his paws with his flail. Folgrim yelled in pain, and almost dropped his sword. Azmoedus seized her chance and lashed out with her sword, and hit Folgrim’s other paw. Folgrim retreated slightly, then swung the sword, oblivious the blood trickling from his throbbing paws, and lopped off Rathenghar’s head with a single blow. Azmoedus gave a wail of anguish. Her mate was dead! She leaped up slashing at Folgrim with a vengeance, angry tears stinging her eyes. Then she slipped. Folgrim took his chance. He raised his sword and stared coldly at Azmoedus, who looked up at him with wide tear-stained eyes. Folgrim spoke.
“Ye killed who I loved, and I’ve payed you back in full… now this is for all those whom ye have killed!”
His sword came down. It cut deep into Azmoedus left shoulder, and went down to her left hip as she screamed in pain. Azmoedus lay dead, her body in two halves. Her vermin ran none were going to face a mad otter, now that their Queen was dead. Folgrim gazed after the retreating figures. He was exhausted, but he needed to eat and to bury Tina. He saw the young ferret, who when he had kicked aside, had hit his head against a tree root, and was now out cold. He would not kill that one. He had watched him every once in a while and knew this one was actually pretty kind hearted. He needed to eat… but what could he eat? There had been no signs of a food store anywhere. But first; he turned to Tina’s still form. Tears rolled out of his good eye. He felt the pain of his wounds, and with a gasp, fainted with fatigue and loss of blood.
Blakwood, (which was the young ferret who’d Folgrim had spared) woke with a pain in his head. He sat up and felt a wave of dizziness. Then he gasped. Dead bodies lay scattered everywhere. His older brother, Darkshad, was dead. It served him right, disrespecting the dead like that, but still, he had been his brother, the only family he’d had left. He crawled to where an Otter’s still form lay. He was breathing. Blakwood had not been much of a fighter; he was more of a healer. He pulled up bits of moss, and pressed it to as many of the otter’s wounds as possible. He needed to stop the bleeding. Now, to tend to the female otter… she might not be dead… but that would be impossible. He started to undo the chain.
Blakwood jumped and whirled about. Folgrim was standing and glaring at him. Blakwood’s mouth hung open in fear. Would the otter kill him as well?
Folgrim stared at the frightened young ferret. What was he doing near Tina? Was he mauling her body? He glowered for a moment, then sighed and sat down. The ferret looked relieved.
“Please sir, I need to get you herbs. Your hurt bad, and so is….. Tina wasn’t it?” Folgrim glared at the young ferret.
“Don’t waist herbs for me… or for Tina. She’s dead. And I’m close enough to joining her. I’ll give her a proper Otter burial… something I don’t deserve.”
Blakwood felt awkward.
“Why don’t you deserve one sir?”
“Because I’m a traitor! And a coward! Is that enough for you?”
“I’m sorry… I’m sorry. Please, may I bury my brother?” Folgrim raised an eyebrow.
“How old are you kid?”
“Eleven seasons sir.”
“Pretty young to be a warrior aren’t ye?” Blakwood just nodded sadly. Folgrim didn’t press him for more answers. He got up and nodded to the still form of Blakwood’s brother.
“Ye bury your dead, and I’ll bury mine. Then when you’ve paid your respects, get out of here.” Blakwood scuttled to find a shovel. Folgrim went out into the woods with a pike ax and chopped down some young trees, ignoring his weak limbs, and his wounds. He returned with plenty of sticks. He gathered some string and watched Blakwood digging a hole while he worked on making a raft. When he finished his raft, he noticed that the ferret had fallen asleep over the finished grave. He had even added a marker and flowers, Folgrim noticed. Folgrim went out to pick as many Flowers as he could. When he returned Blakwood was starting to leave. Folgrim stopped him.
“Stay a while will ye? I want you to learn something. Help me lay these flowers on the raft.” Blakwood obliged. When they had finished, they pushed the raft to the nearest river. Folgrim ordered Blakwood to watch the raft, while he went to get Tina’s body. When he returned, he lay Tina on the flower strewn raft and placed her freshly cleaned sword in her paws. He then took off the leaf shaped amulet from Tina’s neck and placed it around his own. He needed something to remember her by. He then pushed the raft out of the river. He stood with Blakwood standing next to him, and watched the raft float down the rushing current, away from him until it was nothing but a speck. Goodbye…. Tina. He thought. Then he turned to Blakwood.
“You’ve just witnessed a proper Otter burial. Remember that.” Blakwood nodded. Then he walked away from Folgrim, and disappeared into the woods. Folgrim watched him go. Then he walked back to the Torturers camp. He was starving, and weak. He needed nourishment. He saw Azmoedus body lying on the ground. With the remaining wood he made a fire, and added all the torture equipment and the tent to the fire, and he roasted Azmoedus body on a spit, and ate it. He fell unconscious afterword, when he woke up, the fire had died. He left to go back to his Holt…. To his brother.
Such was the past of Folgrim.
Book Two. War
Keyla gave a gusty sigh. Noonvale was so peaceful and quiet...it was so...so…boring
Keyla got up and stretched. He’d die if he didn't have something to do soon. He saw Tullgrew and her younger sister, Teagan, sitting under a shady tree. Teagan was blind, and had been a slave at Marshank, kept only for her healing skills. They were laughing and talking about something...how was it girls could find something to do but he was always bored to tears? He noticed a brown cape and hood plodding towards them. This was the young ottermaid, Leaf, whom Teagan had found a little ways from the river bank, and had healed. Leaf was quiet, and always had her cloak on, and almost always kept her hood up. It gave her a grim reaper affect. Leaf could remember nothing about herself…Just that her name was Leaf…
Note: Teagan is not my character. she is the creation of User:Dawnrose, and i had permission to use her...
Life at Redwall was strangely quiet…Folgrim was mostly to be seen on the ramparts, staring into the forest… He hadn't spoken in two days, and everyone in the good abbey was worried about him...
Columbine had had enough. Making a tray for afternoon tea, she marched up to the battlements, seeing Folgrim in his usual place, she more quietly padded toward him and placed the tray of scones, little round cakes, and scalding hot mint tea, next to Folgrim. Folgrim blinked at the tray than began to stare at the woods again. Resting her chin on her hands and rested her elbows on the wall. Together they stared out at the woods… Columbine spoke.
"I made you something to eat; Thought you might be hungry."
Folgrim only grunted, but Columbine saw his eyes soften momentarily. She continued.
"Everybeast is worried 'bout you. Why, just this morning Chugger was asking why you wouldn't play with him."
Folgrim finally spoke.
"I just need to think… I've tried to push Tina in the back of my mind for so long, and I tried to forget…But she was always there anyway… There’s something I learned... it's best to talk about it, or you will wallow in misery for most of your life…Maybe even your whole life…"
"Good wisdom... well when you get hungry, I left the tray over there." she pointed to the tray. She descended the steps and walked to the Orchard. Folgrim waited for her to be out of sight before stuffing a couple of cakes in his mouth.
Folgrim should have watched a little Longer…
A Fox peered out of the woodlands, a sharp toothed grin split his features...this would all be his soon. His Raven, Krark, had warned him to be careful...there where skilled warriors who lived behind the sandstone walls... he could see an otter on the wall tops eating…The food must be good if the otter was eating so furiously. He would have to keep some of the cooks alive...he twirled his cutlass cheerfully. It was hard not to be cheerful... a glorious summer’s morning, an abbey to put under siege, a horde to help him...Or else... his smile grew even wider. Yes! This would be the most glorious summers he, Rang the Plunderer, would ever have! And to top it all off, there were well trained warriors in that abbey! This would create a challenge…Rang loved challenges…They sharpened his mind and made him more experienced. Rang was never afraid to ask for advice…This made him wise...and deadly! A screech made his smile grow wider than ever Ah Krark must be back from scouting! he thought…Indeed. A raven swooped down and landed on a branch above Rang's head.
"well Krark me feathered murderer! What information have you brought me about those beasts in the fortress? Tell me everything! The whole bag of dirt!"
Krark saw his master smiling… he did not know if this was a good sign or a bad one, but he gave his report readily
"Keeeark! About a score of beasts did I see whilst I flew over yon castle! kaw! But it is only early morning! More are still asleep in its boundaries!"
Rang was still smiling, but he wasn't grinning. He noddded.
"Aye! Right you are my black bonced compadre! Babes and old uns! Well did you see who the Abbey leader was?"
Krark bobbed his head up and down cawing scornfully. He hopped down at the fox's feet and looked up at his master. Rang kneeled down and stroked the back of the bird's neck. Krark shuddered with fear, knowing that Rang could break his neck or strangle him in this position. He spoke quickly.
"Keehah! The leader is an ancient mouse wife in a wheelchair! Why, that old fool is no bigger than me!" Krark was very undersized, and had always been a runt. He began to caw with scornful laughter. Rang’s eyes grew angry. Unexpectedly, he slapped the Raven across the face. Krark screeched and made a mad shot to the branch. Rang’s voice was surprisingly calm as he grinned up at Krark.
"You black feathered idiot! Respect the elderly, for they have lived longer than you and are wiser and more experienced than you! When I have successfully taken over this abbey, I will keep their leader alive, so she may teach me What I need to know about leadership…yes, I will keep their old abbess alive, so I may learn and take advice when I need it…Then I will be wise, and know what I need to know! Krark! Go to my army and tell them to get themselves geared up! We’re goin' visiting!"
The Raven flew off. The two beasts had not seen a young squirrel, hiding behind some foliage, listening to the conversation…He waited for the Fox to turn toward the direction the raven had flown, and disappear into the woods, before rushing to the abbey.
“Mother Abbess! Mother Abbess! This young squirrel needs to talk to you, he says it’s urgent!”
Abbess Germaine blinked up from her cup of mint tea.
“Goodness, Columbine! No need to shout and wake up everyone! I’m not def yet! Take me to him, and let’s see about this urgent news!” Columbine wheeled the abbess into the orchard, where Folgrim waited by a young squirrel. The squirrel was about 15 seasons old; his fur was the color of honey, rich and golden, and when he looked into the abbess’s eyes, she was surprised to see, that they where a cat-like shade of amber…all in all she was very much charmed by the young visitor, as he bowed politely to Germaine…
“Forgive me, good Mother, for coming in without knocking, but there was no time for formalities…I’m afraid I may have scared Folgrim when I scaled up the walls and came face to face with him…”
Folgrim whispered in Columbines ear.
“Aye, and I’ve lost count on how many times he apologized for it too.” Columbine placed a finger over her lips as they listened to the Squirrel talk…
“My name is Brakfurl. While I was out in the woods, I saw a Fox and a Raven outside your walls. They were discussing how many beasts where in the Abbey, and who lead it… The fox and his vermin will be here soon… they plan to bring Redwall under siege!”
“Well if they do, they’ll be hard pressed to get in! Even if they knock politely! Mother Abbess, with your permission I’ll inform Martin, so he and I can get a defense around the walls!”
Abbess Germaine nodded.
“Granted. But hurry! We don’t know how much time we’ve got before they arrive!” Folgrim grinned and turned to Brakfurl. “What say you young un? Care to join me?” Brakfurl looked astonished and pointed to himself.
“Me sir? You really mean it?”
“Aye, you! Ye look like you’re rough and ready! But hurry up; there may not be much time!”
Brakfurl grinned and unhooked his bow from his shoulder notching an arrow to it, and grinned roguishly.
“I’m with ye Matey!” the two of them ran off in the direction of the abbey. Abbess Germaine shook her head and laughed.
“Well it seems Fol has a new Friend! I just hope we’ll be prepared in time! Columbine, Go find Skipper and Lady Amber and tell them to get ready for a siege. Folgrim’s right! Those vermin will be hard pressed to get in, even if they do knock and ask politely!”
Columbine ran to find Skipper and Lady Amber, and Abbess Germaine leaned further into her chair with a long, loud sigh.
Uran Voh scribbled the plans on a piece of parchment… the Noonvale Summer Festival would be here any day and the plans were not yet ready. He was startled by a knock on his door.
“Come in.” Keyla the otter entered and shut the door behind him.
“Ah! Keyla! Welcome! Is something bothering you?”
Keyla shook his head.
“Nay sir, nothing in particular…but I was wondering if I could have your permission to leave Noonvale for a few weeks.”
Uran voh was incredulous.
“Leave Noonvale? Before the Summer Festival? What for?”
“I need an adventure, something to spice up my life… I would also like to take a few companions with me. Would that suit you?”
Uran voh frowned in concentration, then replied.
“Granted. But be careful. We wouldn’t want to lose anyone. Don’t take too many risks.” With a nod Keyla left. When he reached the outdoors, he considered who would be best to take with him. Tullgrew, that was for certain. Maybe Jax would like to come as well. Brome, with his father’s permission…
“Hi Kay! What’s on your mind?” Keyla nearly jumped out of his skin.
“Teagan! You nearly made me have a concussion! What do you mean sneaking up on a beast like that?” he demanded. Teagan’s blind eyes showed concern.
“I’m sorry. But you really need to watch where you’re going. You seem out of it lately.” Keyla knew better than to ask Teagan how she knew he was “out of it”. Teagan may be blind he reminded himself, but that didn’t keep her from being observative.
“Just bored. That’s all. Hey, is Tullgrew around somewhere?” Teagan pointed to the fountain, where Jax and Tullgrew where splashing each other with the water and giggling.
“Thanks. See you around!” he ran over to the fountain, missing the look of disappointment on Teagan’s face.
Jax looked up, soaking from head to bushy tail in fountain water. She was the first to see Keyla, striding towards them, the most determined look she had ever seen on his face. It reminded her uncannily of Felldoh. The smile slid off her face at the name. She had always felt that Felldoh’s death had been her fault, until Leaf came. Leaf had explained to her that she doubted Felldoh would want her to see it that way, and that his death had been Badrang’s fault; No one else’s.
She tapped Tullgrew’s shoulder and Tullgrew looked up, surprised. She waved cheerfully at Keyla. Keyla stopped uncertainly, swaying on the spot before he made up his mind and spoke to the two of them. Teagan came behind to listen. “I’ve just talked to Chief Uran voh, and he gave me permission to go explorin’ for a bit. Just as long as I can come back in one piece. He said okay to some others coming with me. I wanted to ask you lot.”He bit his bottom lip uncertainly. “I know the festival is comin’ up an all that, but I would appreciate if I had some company. Memories are best when shared…” he trailed off lamely.
Jax wrung her Tail so a small fountain of water cascaded into the fountain and stepped onto the lush grass and shook her feet, so Keyla and Teagan both shielded their faces. Jax couldn’t keep her eyes from lighting up at the thought of an Adventure. Tullgrew liked the idea, but bit her lip. She and Jax both had similar questions to ask.
“Can Leaf and Teagan come?” they both blurted out together. Keyla looked taken aback and looked at Teagan who’s blind eyes sparkled hopefully at him, silently begging him to say yes. Keyla hated himself for his next words.
“If Leaf wants too. But, no offense Teagan, but, you might not be able to keep up with us and you’d just kinda, ummm…. Hold us back.” Teagan was about to say something really stinging, when Jax, sensing danger said:
“Weeeeell I would like to go Keyla, but if Teagan can’t come, I won’t have the energy to tell Celandine that me and Tull’ll have to miss her recital, and she and the little ones have worked so hard this season too. So I guess you’ll have to talk to her for me.” She shook her tail slightly for affect.
Teagan grinned at Jax and Tullgrew couldn’t help but admire her friend’s sneakiness. No one in their right mind would want to face Celandine under such circumstances.
Keyla faltered, then gave up, and sighed. “Well I’ll go ask Brome. You three get ready to head out on the morrow, and Jax, you go talk to Celandine.”
Jax grinned at Teagan when Keyla was out of sight. “I’ll go talk to Leaf, and then Celandine. Then I’ll go and pack with you guys. See you later!” She bounded away, her bushy tail waving behind her like a fuzzy banner. Teagan shook her head as Jax faded from view.
“Ye have to admire that un. Best wit I’ve ever had the pleasure of facing. It’s no wonder Felldoh fancied her.”
Tullgrew frowned at her sister, even though she knew she couldn’t see her. Her sharp voice made Teagan’s grin falter slightly. “You’d best never to mention that to her. Poor Jax was so heart-broken. If you bring him up, we might never see a dry eye on her again.”
Teagan wrung her paws. “I won’t mention it. But I think you underestimate her. She’s made of sterner stuff than that.”
The group set out the next morning. Jax was pleasantly surprised by the change in Leaf. Not only was she talking jovially with the others, but singing boisterous ditties as well. Jax walked alongside Teagan, laughing whenever Leaf would break into a very colorful chorus, of an old otter shanty. It was something about a young Sea otter who had very fruity grammar and his grannies ears shriveling up and several fainting frogs. Jax and the others were laughing too hard to hear too much of the song, but the little bit they heard was enough to make Jax’s eyes water as she attempted to stop laughing. Brome and Keyla would sing any of the words they could pick up, which added to the merriment when they would sing off-tune. Jax stared at the surrounding country-side as she walked, tuning her ears to the sounds of birdsong, and the breeze flowing through the trees, making the leaves seem as though they were whispering to each other. The grass was speckled with shadow and sunlight, and felt lush and fresh under her paws. She could see a mountain in the distance, large, and from afar, it looked as though it were made from purple stone. It looked as though a smiling and wrinkled old otter’s face had been cut upon its surface.
Jax stopped and stared at it. It seemed the face had winked cheekily at her for a second.
Teagan had kept walking, not noticing her friend’s sudden halt, when she did, she turned and tried to sense where her friend was. “Jax? Is something wrong?”
Jax gave her head a quick shake and noticed everyone in the group had paused and were staring at her. She smiled. “Nothing! Just a highly active imagination. Shall we press on?”
Meanwhile deep in the forest of Mossflower
Wolfstripe the badger leaned on his tree, his unusual silver fur gleaming in the sunlight. Unlike most badgers, his stripes were not black, but a silvery grey sheen. He blew into his carved wooden flute, and played a beautiful yet eerie melody. However, he was being watched, and he knew it. He continued to play.
“Gotcha!!!” a blue furry cannonball burst from the foliage and hit him in the shoulder. Wolfstripe didn’t even bat an eye.
His mysterious attacker attempted to climb up his shoulder, little claws scraping his fur. His attacker finally got so it was able to hang on to his shoulder blade like a cliff hanger, and clung there panting.
“Okay pant so it’s pant pant harder than it looks.” She gasped.
“I knew you were there the entire time. You really need to work on your sneak attacks.”Wolfstripe said, dislodging the would be attacker and holding her out in front of him, revealing a lanky young female ferret, in a sharp green tunic, a bow and arrow over her shoulder, and a little hat with a fluffy feather.
She looked up at him with her large light green eyes, her blue-ish grey fur ruffled in palces, her white mask fur clean and slick, and her little nose a bit pinker than usual.
She blew the feather out of her face, for it had flopped over and covered her face from view. It merely flopped back and she continued to blow at it, but it would only rise a few inches and flop back down again. She gave up and Wolfstripe pulled the feather back to it’s original place, and set her down. She folded her arms and wrinkled her nose sulkily.
“You could at least act surprised.” She said grudgingly, and climbed up his arm and rested on his shoulder, her legs dangling. She rested her back against his large broadswords hilt, sighing, and enjoying the tranquility.
“I mean, I’m sure to get good enough to sneak up on you after a while, but I think you could at least do me a favor and pretend not to realize I’m there.” Wolfstripe grinned and tweaked his friend’s tail fondly.
“Kerai, you breath loud enough to wake the dead. And I doubt a vermins going to be nice and pretend not to hear you when you sneak up on him in the night.”
Kerai closed her eyes and let out a huffy sigh, causing her feather to tickle his ear. Wolfstripe continued to play his flute, and Kerai, noticing her feather, blew up again, watching it brush Wolfstripe’s ear, making it twitch. She kept doing it at least twenty times before Wolfstripe flicked her ear with a finger.
“Quit it you.” He said, not unkindly. Grinning, Kerai reached out and snagged a butterfly out of the air and stared at it before letting it go. She then pulled of her strange looking instrument, a Hybrid of a harp and a guitar, and began to play alongside her friend’s flute. They sat there for what seemed like a several sunlit days, playing happily, letting the sun warm them.
Authors Note: Kerai's personality is modeled after my own, and i happen to be pretty weird, so expect Kerai to act weird and talkative. XD