Yeah, this'll be a little shorter than normal. Get over it :)

Oh, outcast, take me to your secret lair, where the clouds chase each other forever, the water falls forever, and I am away from the problems of the world- away from war, away from hunger, away from problems, themselves in general.
Well, you haven't come to the right place. Here, you just see it through another's eyes.


Ascler the Otter Warrior sat in his Holt cave. He yawned and stretched out. A younger warrior- Ocyryo, approached him. “Ascler? Can I hear about the battle of Little Creek?”
The warrior grinned and nodded. Ocyryo was one of his favorite otterlits, as the Holt called young otters that weren't quite full-grown, but were far from babes. “First ya gotta get t'elderberry ale mug fro'in m'room, an' fill it w' elderberry ale t'wet m'whistle fer the tale.”
Ocyryo blinked up at Ascler. “But Dewbery won' let me get any ale! I'm too young!”
So smart! thought Ascler. “But don' worry, likkle matey! Jus' tell 'er that's fer me!”
The young otter hurried off, eager to get his story. Ocyryo found the mug in Ascler's chamber, then hurried off to another cave where Dewbery, the Holt cook, kept the elderberry ale.
“But yore too young!” exclaimed the cookotter.
“But don' worry, likkle matey! Jus' tell 'er that's fer me!” Ocyryo quoted.
Dewbery blinked to hold back her laughter. “So tis for Ascler, th'naughty ol' thing?”
“Yah, yah.” Feeling foolish, Ocyryo nodded rapidly. “For Ascler!”
After acquiring the ale, and Ocyryo was walking back towards Ascler's cave, a big otter, the Skipper's daughter, came up to him. “So, what'cha doin', Ocee?”
“Hi, Snoflyt.” Ocyryo tried hard not to look at her.
“You got ALE in there?”
“For Ascler.”
Snoflyt snorted. “Yeah, right. Stole it right off Dewbery, ye did!”
“Go ask her!” Ocyryo snapped, hurrying off. Cloudsteeth, she ticks me off!
Snoflyt watched him hustle off. “Only the guilty deny.” she sneered. “Mayhaps this'll be good fer the Skip t'ear 'bout.”

Chapter One

A large otter sat by the banks of a river, watching the currents swirl here and there. He sighed, and twirled a finger in the water, but the currents that lived there just kept swimming past him.
The otter stood up. He was a small otter but very brawny and young. He had a javelin attached to a haversack on his shoulder, and a traveling cloak blew in the passing winds.
He turned and looked back over his shoulder. “Father, why must I do this? Why did you exile me, from everything I loved?” he wailed at the trees behind him.
The wind replied, You know you must, Ocyryo. It has been two score days since... his death.
“No! I did not poison Ascler! I did what he asked! It... it was Snoflyt's fault! I shouldn't be an... an outcast!” Ocyryo called despairingly.
You... know you must... Ocyryo! Take it... like a warrior, brave... one.
The wind faded away and died. The otter flung himself on the ground and wept himself to sleep.

When he woke up the next morning, the world was bathed in purple and pink light from the sun. The trees, blocking the spectacle from Ocyryo, but they just made everything lovelier.
As Ocyryo stood up, he felt all the despair of the night before flood through him. He blinked hard to clear his vision.
A rustling made him whirl around. He grabbed his javelin from his haversack and pointed it at the offending bushes. “Who's there?” he snarled, reminding him painfully of Snoflyt.
A pretty ottermaid stepped daintily out of the leaves and twigs. She looked up at him and feigned surprise. “Oh! Am I disturbing you?”
Ocyryo blinked for the third time today. “N-no. No, you're okay.”
She smiled, and Ocyryo was dazzled. “Good. I am Dyryde.”
I could swear that she's a member of our Holt, what with all the “y”s.” The otter outcast smiled in return and nodded distractedly. “Yes, greetings, Dyryde. I am Ocyryo, an outcast of my Holt.”
The beautiful ottermaid looked at Ocyryo. “You-you can't be! He's dead!”
“Yes, after-after Skip was killed and Snoflyt became Skipper, she told us all that you had killed Skip so she-she'd killed- killed you.” Dyryde's unusual green eyes were big with confusion.
“Me, kill Skip? No, but I'd like to.” When he saw the ottermaid's eyes widen further in horror, he chuckled lightly. “Ma'am, I'm kidding. Syryn and Skip exiled me after Ascler's poisoning.”
“Oh, yes. That was terrible, wasn't it?”
Ocyryo winced. “Yeah, got me blamed fer it and branded a murderer!”
Dyryde seemed not to realize his point. “You mean, you of all otters was blamed for Ascler's death?”
The exiled warrior nodded sadly. “Although I was simply innocent.”
“How? I mean, how were you blamed?” Dyryde blushed.
“Simple. I wanted to hear about the Battle of Little Creek from Ascler. He told me to go get him some elderberry ale from Dewbery. She gave me the ale. I met Snoflyt in the clearing, she was real suspicious. Said she'd tell Skip. Then of course I went back and gave Ascler th'ale, and... well...”
“He died.” Dyryde whispered. She was humbled by the story. Such an innocent otter... exiled for no reason...
“But can't you come back?” she asked.
“How? Syryn and Skip exiled me, Dyryde. I'm an outcast.” He snapped, then regretted it.
“But both of them are dead!”
“Syryn's dead? My father is dead? Why didn't you tell me?” Ocyryo's eyes grew huge. Then he blinked. “It won't do any difference. Snoflyt won't allow me to return.”
Dyryde blinked in return. “Yes, but no otter will mind you coming in!”
The otter warrior's face grew hard. “Yes they will- Syryn told them that I killed Ascler, and no Skip in her right mind would allow me back into the Holt.” Dyryde nodded. But there's gotta be some way...
Ocyryo suddenly asked, “But why are you this far away from the Holt?”
“I too am in exile.” Dyryde nearly laughed at Ocyryo's horrified look. “Yes, I am.”
“Whatever for?”
“For... for speaking out against Snoflyt. She wanted to invade the nearby Holts for glory, but I told her that there was no glory in massacre. Most of the otters agreed with me, so that night, Wyfyre crept into my tent.” Wyfyre was the best assassin in the Holt. “I got away, but Snoflyt was woken up. She called after me as I fled, 'You are exiled from our Holt, to be killed on sight! Go join Ocyryo in traitor's exile!' So, here I am!”
Ocyryo nodded.

Chapter Two

A large tan-colored otter strode across the clearing towards a gathering of stones. She gazed at them and the words on them- Ascler, Syryn, Skipper Kytuyr, Wyfrye.
All noble otterwarriors- Ascler, poisoned by the traitor Ocyryo, Syryn, who went mad over the loss of Ocyryo and killed himself, Skipper Kytuyr, who was killed by the other traitor, Dyryde, and Wyfrye, who was killed in the chasing-out of Dyryde. Four otters, all dead by or because of Ocyryo and Dyryde.
Skipper Snoflyt moved on to a huge pile of sticks that had seven words on it-

Traitors Ocyryo and Dyryde- Dead To Us

Snoflyt spat on the sticks and moved on, around the stones. Then she nodded. Everything was in it's place.
An otterguard stomped up to her. “My lady, Myfyrth is requesting Naming Permission.”
Naming Permission was one of the standards that Snoflyt had created when she became Skipper. It stated that all the mothers that had otterbabes were required to have them named by Snoflyt.
The Skipper nodded. “Tell her I'm coming.”
She followed the otterguard back to her cave. “Myfyrth.” she nodded to the otterwife.
“Skipper Snoflyt.” Myfyrth replied.
Snoflyt winced. “If you please, I prefer Queen Snoflyt. Skipper is so... manly, ya know?”
Cloudsteeth! Myfyrth thought in alarm. Queen Snoflyt! What is this Holt turning into? “Yes, Queen Snoflyt.”
She smiled, and something in that satisfactory smile made Myfyrth quiver in fear. “We have no need to be THAT formal. I believe just “ma'am” will do, for now.”
It was the for now that bothered the otterwife.
They sat in awkward silence until Snoflyt asked rather impatiently, “Well, you must've come fer some reason, eh?”
Myfyrth nodded , relieved. “Oh, yes ma'am. Three otterbabes needing names, one male and two female.”
Snoflyt felt sorry for the little otter mother, so she offered, “Do you have any that you were... hoping for?”
Relieved, Myfyrth replied, “I'd like to name the male.”
Snoflyt smiled homily. “Of course, dearie.”
Dearie! As if she was my mother! Myfyrth thought in dread.
When she was silent, Snoflyt prompted her. “Myfyrth?”
The ottermaid shook his head as if to clear her vision. She whispered, “I... I'd like to name him Ocyryo.”
Snoflyt's face blanched. She croaked out hoarsely, “O-Ocyryo?”
Myfyrth nodded. She regretted her request now. “Yes, like my other son.”
How did I forget that Ocyryo was Myfyrth's son?
The Skipper stood up quickly. “No! No, Ocyryo will forever be a tainted name! Name your daughters Krystlyr and Lystry. And name your son Hyuyk. Never mention the name Ocyryo in my presence again! Under penalty of death!”
After calming down a bit, she whispered coldly, “You are dismissed, Myfyrth.”
The otterwife hurried out of the cave with the names running around in her head- Krystlyr, Lystry, and Hyuyk... for some reason, they ALL seemed familiar...

Chapter Three

Hyuyk chased his sister Krystlyr outside. “I'ma getcha, Krystlyr!”
Suddenly he was lifted up by his neckscruff. The same thing happen to Krystlyr. “Lemme go!” he howled, but was turned around so he looked straight into the face of an otterguard.
Hyuyk froze in horror as the guard scrutinized him. “You are Myfyrth's babe, are you not?” the guard growled.
The otterlit stumbled out, “Yes! Yes sir, I am!”
“Hey, Strykyr, this one is Myfyrth's!” the otterguard that held Krystlyr called over to the one with Hyuyk.
“Yeah, Seryn, so's this 'un!” The guard that held Hyuyk, Strykyr, replied.
Seryn sauntered over to them. “Queen Snoflyt will be miiiiiighty pleased wi' us t'day.”
Queen Snoflyt?” Krystlyr gasped. “But... but she's Skipper, I thought!”
Strykyr leaned down into her face. “Well, Skipper is the leader and Queen is the leader, so why's it matter t'you!” The way he said it, it was not a question.
“Because! This Holt is not some mere empire t'be ruled! It is a Holt, living and breathing.” She quoted her mother's words.
Seryn snorted. “Listen, kid, I got better things t'do that t'sit 'ere and listen t'you tell me 'ow Snoflyt shouldn' do this and Snoflyt shouldn' do that. Quite frankly, not one bit of it's yer business any'ow.”
With that, the two guards marched the two babes into Snoflyt's cave.
Inside, they found the Skipper on a huge chair that was in a corner of sunlight. She was sitting there speaking rapidly with another guard when she noticed the four otters waiting for her.
When it rains, Snoflyt's chair'll get wet. Hyuyk couldn't help but think.
She finished up her conversation rapidly and then she turned to them.
“Ah, Seryn, Strykyr, my guards! You have brought me Myfyrth's three?” Snoflyt cooed.
Seryn grimaced. “We have the male and one of the females. Lystry was out with 'er mother.”
Snoflyt was in a forgiving mood. “Oh, well, always tomorrow!”
Then she turned to the two otterlits. She wrinkled up her nose and snarled, “Did Myfyrth ever tell you about your brother?”
Hyuyk chimed in, “Oh yes! Ocyryo! And how you influenced the Skipper's decision and got him framed for killing Ascler AND Skipper even though every otter in the Holt knew that you killed Skip, and...”
Krystlyr nudged him hard. He stopped, and noticed that Snoflyt's eyes were getting red and her breath was coming shallowly.
“And... did she tell... you... that...” she stopped and caught her breath. “Did she tell you that his spirit later returned and killed his own father? It was about a week after Ocyryo's exile.”
“No!” Krystlyr gasped.
Snoflyt put on an expression of false sympathy. “I mean, can you believe that someone would kill their own father?
“Yes, I can.” Hyuyk blurted out.
The Skipper was thunderstruck, but she held her tongue.
All eyes were on the otterlit as he snapped out, angry as well, “Ocyryo's spirit can't do anything- not if he's not dead! And,” here were Hyuyk's two ultimate weapons, “Syryn died two days after you banished Ocyryo, not a week. So you must have killed Syryn, because Ocyryo could not possibly have died in that short time span.” Actually, if he had been killed... but Hyuyk hoped she wouldn't bring that up. “Plus, you killed your father, didn't you, Snoflyt? So I can believe that.”
It was the accusation that sent her over the edge. “ENOUGH!” she screamed. “STRYKYR, COME HERE!”
The guard approached her, trembling. She grabbed his spear and stood up on her throne.
Hyuyk gazed back at her calmly. “You won't kill me in here, with Krystlyr, Seryn, and Strykyr watching.”
Snoflyt kept steady aim as her berserk glare pierced him. “You are very smart for an otterlit.”
He shrugged. “So was Ocyryo, before you exiled him.”
That was the last straw. Losing control completely, Snoflyt released the spear. It plunged straight into Hyuyk's heart.
The otterlit gazed at it and said coolly, “Revenge will be sweeter when there is a death to avenge.”
Then he toppled backwards. Krystlyr let out a shrill scream of rage and grief. She knelt by her slain brother.
Snoflyt felt no guilt over killing the little otter. “Seryn and Strykyr can keep secrets.”
Krystlyr looked up and her tears fell in a cascade on the cave floor. “But I won't! I'll tell everyone! You KILLED MY BROTHER!” she sobbed, and fell on Hyuyk's body.
The Skipper nodded to the two guards and, obedient as always, Krystlyr was let away to another cave that had been unused for more seasons that anybeast can remember- the Holt prison.

Chapter Four

Ocyryo led Dyryde towards a long underground burrow. It started where the two otters stood, and led to Ascler's old cave in the Holt. The entrance was a huge, black gaping hole in the ground.
Dyryde gasped when she saw it. “No, Ocyryo. You are NOT getting me into there.”
The otter patted her on the shoulder. “Come on, Dy. Everything's fine, trust me.”
“But if there's snakes in there?” she persisted.
Ocyryo gave her a withering look. “Watch me.” He hopped into the hole. When Dyryde looked into it, she could see his head.
“It's not deep!” he called back.
The ottermaid took a deep breath and hopped into the hole. She winced as darkness rushed her, but when she landed, she realized that it wasn't really all that deep.
Dyryde looked over at Ocyryo. He winked. “Told'cha, mate!”
She blinked as her eyes adjusted. She grumbled, “So what if ya did?”
He smiled triumphantly and began to explore the tunnels branching off the clearing.
Suddenly he came running back. “Dyryde!” he exclaimed.
Alarmed, she screeched, “What? What!?”
Ocyryo grinned at the agitation he had caused, but sobered up. “We should name the places we go to, that way we'll never get lost.”
Dyryde had to admit the sense in that. “Okay. So, this is... Shadow Landing.”
Ocyryo blinked, impressed. “Shadow Landing it is. Or, The Landing fer short.”
The ottermaid nodded. “Now, that tunnel is Left Tunnel,” she jerked her head towards the tunnel branching off to the left of Shadow Landing, “And that one is Right Tunnel.”
“Heh.” Ocyryo chuckled. “Straightforward, eh? Now, look 'ere.” He knelt on the dirty ground of Shadow Landing in a patch of sunlight. He drew a large blotch. “This 'ere is The Landing, right?”
Dyryde nodded.
He drew two lines off of it. “This is Left Tunnel and this is Right Tunnel. You...” he motioned towards the line representing Left Tunnel. “Explore Left Tunnel. Name any places then come back here and add them to the map. Got it?”
She nodded again. “One thing. What if we end up together?”
Ocyryo nodded in reply. “Good question. Here's my reasoning. One, if not both, of the tunnels will eventually get us to the Holt. So they have to end up somewhere, right? Even if they just end, well...”
Dyryde caught on. “Even if they just end, they still go somewhere! And, by nature of this Landing...”
Ocyryo finished. “Both tunnels will eventually get to another Landing, and probably merge into one, the one that leads to the Holt. First one to the Landing names it!”
As he prepared to dash down into Right Tunnel, Dyryde suddenly stopped him. “Light. We need light.”
Ocyryo nodded. He backed down Right Tunnel a bit, then took a flying leap at the top of Shadow Landing. He landed, blinking, in the sunlight. Dyryde called up to him, “Find the fire! Get torches!”
Ocyryo nodded again, then set off in search of fire.

Chapter Five

Lystry and Myfyrth arrived back home from a berry-picking outing late that night, to find Hyuyk and Krystlyr both missing.
Myfyrth frowned. “Now, where could they be?”
Strykyr, who had been waiting for them to return, knocked on the side of Myfyrth's cave.
The otterwife whirled around, and when she saw him, she whispered to Lystry, “Go to sleep. Now.”
Sensing urgency, the otterlit went off to bed.
With a casual air, Myfyrth sauntered up to Strykyr. When she saw him, she feigned surprise. “Oh, Sergent Strykyr! What an HONOR!”
Sergent? What the heck? Strykyr thought. I'm no Sergent! “Why, thank you, Lady Myfyrth. But I'm dreadfully sorry that I cannot stay longer. I just... Seryn, come in here.” The guard broke down in false tears, burying his head in his arms.
Another guard, Seryn, came in with a body. Myfyrth gasped when she recognized Hyuyk. “But... what happened to him?”
Strykyr whispered, “He and Krystlyr were playing up on High Boulder. He fell. Snoflyt, Seryn and I were there, and we rushed to attend to him- but we couldn't stop his fall, and he was dead when he hit the ground.”
High Boulder was a huge stone quarry that all the otterlits were forbidden to play on. Of course, most did anyway, but it was extremely dangerous, and you could easily get killed at High Boulder.
Myfyrth's gaze grew glassy and she stumbled over to the teakettle. As if in a trance, she poured three cups of nettle tea. She sat down again and stared off into space, while stirring the boiling hot tea with her paw.
Finally she sighed and appeared to come into focus. She silently watched Seryn and Strykyr try to drink the tea, which was, after all, scalding hot. Then she asked hoarsely, “What happened to Krystlyr? Is she dead?”
“Well, we don't know. She... she's missing.” Seryn replied.
Myfyrth stood quickly. “Then why didn't you tell me before? We must go find her!”
Strykyr patted her on the back, but she shook him off. “Madam, we have all the best trackers in the Holt on Krystlyr's trail.”
She whirled around to face him and her eyes blazed. “I'm her MOTHER, for Clouds' sakes!”
Seryn exhaled noisily. “This is top tea, madam. Which kind is it?”
Myfyrth whispered, “Nettle.”
“NETTLE!” she screamed.
Seryn blinked. “Oh, sorry, madam.”
“Don't call me that!” Myfyrth snapped. “It's what Syryn used to call me!”
The guard blinked again. These otterfolk are... strange! “Oh, yes, Myfyrth.”
“Hmm.” Myfyrth gave Seryn a withering look.
Strykyr observed this with an air of laughter. “Myfyrth, Queen Snoflyt knows that Hyuyk's death is hard on you, especially... especially at this time in your life, after all that has-”
“After you kicked Ocyryo out, you mean.” Myfyrth said listlessly.
The guard blinked slowly, then continued, “After all that has happened lately. So, Queen Snoflyt has offered you a place in a back cave of hers, just, you know, in case you need anything.”
The otterwife narrowed her eyes. “I don't need anything! Leave me alone, you liars! You murdering, exiling, no-good, liars!
Strykyr opened his eyes a little wider in surprise at this new accusation.
“Yeah, I said liars! You exile Ocyryo, my delightful second son, with what? A bunch of lies, and a murder- Ascler, my eldest son. Then you get rid of Syryn, my husband with what? A murder and some lies to cover it up. Snoflyt wants t'be Skipper? Well, there goes Skipper, with lies about “some dead otter's spirit sticking a dagger in his chest”. Strykyr doesn't look like a spirit to me. Then Dyryde goes along with a few other otters, speaking out against unnecessary deaths, and Snoflyt sends Wyfyre out after her! Then when Dyryde escapes and Wyfyre goes an runs right into an oak tree and is found four days later, stone-dead, well... Dyryde gets blamed for it- but the blame is all lies.
“And, of course, there's the other day. Why can't I name my son Ocyryo? He's dead now anyway! And what happened today? No, wait, let me guess. You came by and captured them for Snoflyt. I don't need you tell me that she obviously has a grudge against me. Hyuyk told you all, or most, of what I'm saying now, and angered her. She killed him with your spear.” Myfyrth nodded to Seryn, then cocked her head. “Never mind, it was yours.” she nodded at Strykyr.
“Then you have to keep Krystlyr, because she was there, after all! So she's sitting down in the prison cave, otterlit-napped, and you want me and Lystry there as well. So you visit, bearing lies of protection, but, and you can tell Snoflyt this, I DON'T TAKE SHELTER WITH LIARS, OR MURDERERS. I WILL BREAK MY DAUGHTER OUT OF PRISON-CAVE IF I HAVE TO DIE DOING IT!”
Strykyr, who had watched all this ranting with an impassive look, asked, “Are you finished?”
The otterwife's eyes blazed. “Get. Out. Of. My. House. Now.” She snarled.
The two guards stood up. “Well, I greatly thank you for your hospitality, madam...” Seryn began.
Myfyrth advanced on them, fuming, like an eagle on it's prey. “I said, OUT!”
Eyes wide in fear, the two guards raced out of the house.
After they'd left, Myfyrth sat down at the table again and sobbed over Hyuyk's body.
Lystry tiptoed out her bedroom door and sat down with Myfyrth at their table. “Mommy?”
The otterwife looked up, as if she couldn't believe that Lystry was really sitting there. “Yes, dearie?”
“We should escape. I wanna show ya the tunnel I found the other day.”
Sensible idea, considering that I've just made enemies with Strykyr and Seryn, and Snoflyt, for that matter. “Tunnel?”
“Yeah, it goes really far. But I couldn't explore it very well- we'll need a light.” Lystry spoke confidently.
“In the morning.”

Chapter Six

Ocyryo first saw the smoke on the morning after he left Dyryde. Ah, ha! Fire! As he approached it, he noticed things looked familiar... suddenly he noticed the large wood sign on the tree- You Are Approaching Holt Riverdale, lead by Skipper Queen Snoflyt.
Ocyryo turned. I can't go there, Snoflyt'll never let me. Hey... Something in the sign made him turn back. QUEEN Snoyflyt? After she murdered my father to get it... she can't begrudge me a little fire, especially since I left her relatively painlessly... I mean, she's alive, isn't she?
Chuckling a little at this line of thinking, Ocyryo continued into the Holt camp.
It was all smoky chaos. One otter ran by Ocyryo with two buckets. He tossed him one. “Myfyrth's 'ouse's burnin'! 'Elp us, mate!” No otter seemed to notice that an outcast had returned.
After running to the river, for which the Holt was named, and filling his large oak-wood bucket, Ocyryo ran back to the otter's house. “Is everyone out??” he demanded of brawny otter.
The otter glared at his rudeness. “Of course!”
“Good.” Ocyryo then ran up to the fire and doused it in water.
After it had been vanquished, down to a few embers, Ocyryo took four large sticks and slicked them with the rivermud, which was hard and flammable. It would work for fuel. Lighting them on the remaining embers, the outcast slipped away.
Filled with a burning desire to poke Snoflyt with the fiery end of one of his sticks for burning his mother's house, and not even helping (she had been a bystander the entire time) solve it, Ocyryo raced away for the second time in his life; away from his home. Sudden shouts made him turn around. “Wait! Wait!”
It was Snoflyt.
Oh, Cloudsteeth, she can't find me! She swore on her life t'kill me on sight. Ocyryo looked around desperately. Some ferns... aha! He smashed them on his head.
“Wait...! Wait...!” Snoflyt panicked as she ran up to Ocyryo.
He smiled flatteringly at her.
She looked at him. “Oh!” she exclaimed. “Pardon me, ma'am, but did you just come from our Holt fire?”
Ocyryo looked down at the two blazing sticks he held. He nodded.
“And did you help?”
Again he nodded.
“Thank you. What is your name?”
Thinking fast, Ocyryo pointed at his mouth and shook his head. If I spoke, she would surely know 'twas me.
Snoflyt's face fell. “You... can't speak?”
Ocyryo pretended to be upset. He shook his head again.
So he didn't seem rude, Ocyryo pointed at Snoflyt and shrugged.
He nodded.
“Oh, I am Her High Majesty Queen Skipperette Snoflyt, the Mighty and Intolerant, ruler of Holt Riverdale, Fair and Kind to All.”
Intolerant, yet fair and kind to all? High Majesty, queen, Skipperette? How about, the Queen of Paradoxes? Ocyryo thought scalding. What an idiot this otter truly is!
But keeping the pretense of being mute, and a complete stranger to Snoflyt, Ocyryo tried to look shocked and impressed, and curtsied to her, every inch the perfect maid.
As time wore on, Snoflyt began to notice that Ocyryo was inching towards Shadow Landing's opening behind a large boulder. She smiled innocently. “Oh, do you need to go?”
Relieved, Ocyryo nodded.
“Go on, then. I shall tell Myfyrth that you helped in her house fire! Have a good day!” Snoflyt turned to jog back into the Holt camp.
Ocyryo raised a hand in a wave. After Snoflyt was out of sight, he tore the fern off his head. Poor females! I never shall get onto them, never again!
Snoflyt, turning back, noted the absence of the female otter. I wonder... Nah, probably just lives around here. Although...
She shrugged and turned back to the Holt entrance. She straightened the sign as she entered. Suddenly, she was surrounded by Seryn and Strykyr. “My lady, did you see Myfyrth, or Lystry?”
“Of course I didn't, you fools! I've been chasing mute, nosy ottermaids around Mossflower Woods! I hope, for your sake, that you saw them, though, because if you didn't...” Snoflyt did not finish her threat. Nor did she need to.
Oh, Cloudsteeth! How do I tell her that Myfyrth and Lystry have vanished into thin air? Strykyr wondered.

Chapter Seven

Ocyryo handed Dyryde a flaming torch. “Here you go. Have fun exploring Left Tunnel.”
“Wait!” Dyryde called as Ocyryo headed into Right Tunnel.
He turned, suppressing a sigh. I want to explore! Why doesn't she get that?? he thought in frustration. “Yes?”
“When you name something, write the name in the center of it. That way, if, say, you got there after me, we wouldn't double-name something.” Dyryde said thoughtfully.
“Good idea!”Ocyryo exclaimed. Maybe it was worth keeping her after all!
She nodded. “Peace out, adventurer!” She headed down Left Tunnel, following it.
Ocyryo nodded back to her. “Peace out.” He wasn't sure if she heard him, so he sighed and started down Right Tunnel.
Dyryde held her torch out like a sword as she advanced down her tunnel. She continued down the tunnel. Nothing exciting. Dyryde groaned. I'm an otter, made for the streams, not a mole! But she persevered, continuing down the dark tunnel.
As she traveled along the tunnel, she thought to compose a little song.

I am an outcast
Brave and strong
I shall survive until the last
When the night is so long.

The last line of the song got Dyryde thinking about things aboveground, where she would much prefer to be, so she composed another song, a much better one, in her opinion.

The stars in the night
Pinpricks in the sky
The moon, too, a glowing light
Although it is ever so high.
Sunlight comes welcome
Relieving the moon
When day's first rays
Creep over the horizon,
When the land is bathed in red
And gold, hues of orange and scarlet,
Day has began. It is morning,
The prelude to day, the realm of the sun.

She grinned, and sung it aloud. “The stars in the night, pinpricks in the sky...”
Dyryde rounded a bend in Left Tunnel and stiffened suddenly. A light, up ahead!
The ottermaid's pace quickened into a light jog. It was another Landing, like the one that Ocyryo had mentioned. She looked around and calculated where the center was. Dyryde sauntered over to it. It was clear, with a little pile of rocks. Suspiciously, the otter kicked over the pile of rocks. A worm skittered into the ground. Dyryde smiled.
Let's see... what is a good name for this? She looked around calculatingly. Of course! Star Landing! Wasn't that the verse she was singing when she first saw the Landing?
Digging a small hole, she placed the non-burning end of her torch in it, and, with her paw, she drew a large “S”. Dyryde yawned, and drew the “t”. After writing “Star Landing” in the dirt, she stood up and picked up her torch. The otter looked around and started. There were four tunnels leading off Star Landing, she realized. Two of the were the Right and Left Tunnels. Under “Star Landing”, Dyryde wrote, “I WENT ---->” and pointed at the left, un-named tunnel.
Where that tunnel and Star Landing met, Dyryde wrote, “Fire Tunnel. I AM HERE.”
She nodded and headed down Fire Tunnel. After going a while, long enough for her to begin, “The stars in the night...”, she stiffened when she heard other voices from farther down Fire Tunnel.
“See, Mommy, I told you that there were underground tunnels here!”
“Yes, Lystry, you were exactly right.”
“Will we ever go back to Holt Riverdale, Mommy?”
There was a short pause. Dyryde had to strain to hear the reply. “I... I don't know, Lystry. You saw what Snoflyt did to us, burning our home down.”
“But she has Krystlyr!”
“I know.”
“Please, Lystry, give me time to think this over, okay?”
Another voice, Dyryde assumed her to be Lystry, replied, in a disappointed tone, “Okay, Mommy.”

Chapter Eight

“Lystry!” It was the older voice, the one that Dyryde had assumed was Lystry's mother, that called out. Dyryde froze as she heard the slap of paws against hard stone. No! She thought frantically. I don't have a plan yet!
“Lystry, come back!” Now the other voice was approaching quickly, too. Dyryde searched the wall on her left for a niche to put her torch in. Too small, too large, too... aha! Perfect!
She slid the torch into place and slid in the shadows on the right side of Fire Tunnel. Not a moment too soon, either, thought Dyryde as she watched Lystry and the older otter come running into her view.
Both halted when they saw the torch as if they'd been slapped. “Someone's in here with us.” Lystry whispered.
The older otter nodded, and murmured hoarsely, “Yes, recently, too.”
Dyryde stepped out from the shadows. “I am here.”
The older otter's mouth dropped open and she sank to the stone floor. “No! It simply cannot be!”
Dyryde looked at her in contempt, ready to spit something at her, but she froze. “Madam, you look familiar!”
“But... Queen Snoflyt told us that you were dead!” The otter gasped.
“I'm as dead as Ocyryo.” Dyryde said, without thinking.
The otter smiled ruefully. “Then I'm speaking with a ghost.”
Dyryde gazed at the otter, grateful for someone else from Holt Riverdale to speak with. “I have seen you before, madam.”
“As do you, Dyryde Streamsplash.” The otterwife replied, grinning slyly.
The outcast's eyes grew large. “Myfyrth Windriver!” She ran and squeezed the otter tightly. “You ol'rascal!”
Myfyrth groaned. “You said you're as dead as Ocyryo? So he's not dead?”
“Nope! D'ya wanna talk t'im?” Dyryde asked giddily.
“Yeah! I wanna meet my brover!” Lystry piped up in excitement.
Dyryde looked at her and smiled. “Yours, Myfyrth?”
She nodded, eyes filled.
The outcast ottermaid realized Myfyrth's desperate desire to see her son. Dyryde banged on the cave wall as hard as she could and screamed, “Ocyyyyyyyyyyyryyyyyyyyyooo! Commmmmmmmmmmme heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeereeeeeeeeeee Ocyyyyyyyyyyyyyryyyyyyyyyyyooo!!”
The whole structure shook with the impact of Dyryde's blows. Myfyrth winced. “You're gonna knock the 'hole thing over, ya fool!”
Dyryde grinned to see that the feisty old otterwife hadn't lost any of her fire. “Don' worry. Jus' watch.”
Shouts made them all turn towards Star Landing. “Dyyyyyyyyyyrrrrrrryyyyyyyyyyyyddeeee! I'm commmmmminnnn'!”
With a smug grin, Dyryde smirked at Myfyrth, who returned her gaze steadily until Ocyryo came into his mother's view. Then she raced off to smother her son in hugs and kisses.
Lystry and Dyryde stood next to each other and watched Myfyrth hug her son, who blinked over his shoulder at Dyryde. He mouthed, Who is this otterwife?
Dyryde grinned and mouthed back, Your mother, stupid!
He narrowed his eyes. “Mother?” he asked cautiously.
“Ocyryo, you ol'riverdog, you!”
He blinked, realizing that his eyes were filling up. “But-but, yer house was on fire earlier!” But, he realized, I don't really believe that she died.
Myfyrth let Ocyryo go, and shrugged. “Since when did I let an ol'fire stop me?”
Ocyryo grinned, and hugged his mother. Lystry tugged at him. A little annoyed, he turned to his sister. “What?” he demanded.
“I yo' sissa!” Lystry sucked her paw- Why? wondered Myfyrth, She never sucks her paw!- and gazed up with utter adoration at her brother.
“Oh, are you?” Ocyryo let his mother go, and picked Lystry up. He cuddled her to his chest, and they, along with Dyryde, listened as Myfyrth related the tale to them.
Ocyryo let Lystry go. “Well, Krystlyr can't stay with Snoflyt! Once she realizes that you aren't there anymore, she's dead.”
Myfyrth smiled sadly. “Exactly. But it's impossible to break into the prison cave, well, and get out again, alive.”
Ocyryo sat with a bump, Dyryde one bump behind him. “But, there's gotta be some way!”
Myfyrth and Lystry joined the two other otters on the hard, cold, stone floor of Fire Tunnel. The four thought in silence; each with their own schemes.
Suddenly, Dyryde hopped up. “I got it! But we gotta be quick, because the full moon'll only last so long!”
She grabbed the torch, and ran towards Star Landing. Lystry bolted after her, and, left alone and puzzled in the darkness, Myfyrth and Ocyryo ran after them.

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