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A huge badger lumbered over to the window. He was silver with a grey stripe down his back and he had a huge broadsword attached to his waist. He was in full armor.
"GREYFUR! LOWER TH'FLAG!" The badger roared.
"Yes, Lord Kytrae." A big white hare staggered up the tower steps to the flagpole, where the white flag of Lord Kytrae Wingblade the Cruel flew. Greyfur could tell why Ky wanted it down- it appeared to be a flag of peace, of surrender. And Ky hated surrendering.
As the flag was lowered, Kytrae saw a ship fast approaching. Good.
The badger continued to watch the ship come closer to the mountain. "Silverwing is back!"
A hare that was guarding the chamber banged through the door. "My Lord! It's not Silverwing! It's a corsair ship! With Silv as a slave! And they're fast approaching!"
Kytrae turned back to the window with a growl of frustration. The ship was sailing around the mountain instead of into it!
The badger's eyes glazed over in rage at this false alarm. "Come here, Cytru."
The hare approached his master, trembling in fear. The badger lord was not named "The Cruel" for nothing! "Y-yes, m-my L-lor-rd?"
Kytrae grabbed the hare by the ears and hauled him out the window. He clung to the windowsill. "My Lord, please! Have mercy! I... I didn't know!"
The badger's eyes gleamed hard silver. "Then you can crawl up to Greyfur and the flagpole and replace my flag! No, since I am saving your life, I want you to remake it! With a hard, blood-red background."
The hare stuttered, "Yes, my Lord."
As Kytrae turned away from the window, Cytru let his grip go. The badger smiled coldly as he heard a splash. Maybe it was cruel of him to threaten his hares into suicide, but it would not be under his leadership that Salamandastron fell apart!
Silverwing, a pretty white hare, struggled at her bonds. She was tied to the mast of the vermin ship Conquerer. "Let me go, ye vermin!" she shrilled. But no beast heard her over the noise of the corsair party.
One, a tipsy rat, approached her. "Argh, me pretty, would ye like t'dance wi'me?"
Silverwing snarled, "No!" But she was pulled to her feet anyway, much to the laughter of the crew.
With chains clinking, the hare was yanked around the ship deck by the rat. She shot a look up at Salamandastron. Oh why can't I be up there?
But did she want to be up there, with Ky the Cruel? Silverwing couldn't answer that. "Arrrr!" the rat groaned. Silverwing turned back to her "dancing partner". He was doubled over in pain.
A fox rushed up to him. "Grosy, are you okay?"
The rat staggered to his feet and swayed. "Me grog!" he roared. Then he caught sight of Silverwing and realized that he was holding part of her chain. He dropped it like it was a hot grogmug.
Silverwing was thrown to the deck. She lay stunned as the chain lay on her throbbing head.
Grosy gasped, "I killed 'er! She's dawd!"
The hare suddenly had a thought. She groaned lightly, as if in extreme pain.
"Not yet ye haven'. Let's tie 'er back up, though, b'fore th'boss finds 'er." The fox suggested.
"Yah!" the tipsy rat replied noisily.
The fox, sober, whispered, "Shush it, mate! 'Er you'll attract un'anted attention!"
"OF COURSE!" Grosy roared, even louder.
The fox shook his head pityingly but picked up the hare.
Instantly, Silverwing went limp. She wheezed, and made sure that her leg was at a funny angle.
The fox grimaced as he saw the hare. "Ah, she's 'n a baaaaaaaaad contintion!"
Stupid vermin! thought Silverwing as she was carried back to the mast. Contintion, indeed!
Suddenly the fox threw up his arms, and nearly dropped Silverwing. He quickly recovered the hare before she hit the deck. "Yer alive, aren'cha, mate?" he asked the hare.
She nodded, still wheezing heavily.
"GROSY! GO FETCH M'SOME ROPE FROM T'CELLAR!" the fox called.
The rat saluted, "Yes ma'am!" and stumbled out of sight, in the opposite direction from the cellar door.
Once he had left, the fox turned back to Silverwing. "Now, listen, b'cause I can get killed fer this! I'ma let'cha go, yeah, take off y'chains an'ever'thin'. Yer job is t'get out 'f'ere, alive. Don' worry 'bout me. Go back t'Kytrae at Sallamannastron, I dun' care."
As the meaning of his words sank in, Silverwing realized what he was saying. "Oh, how can I ever repay ye, sir?"
The fox nodded. "Th'name's Gylphyn."
Gylphyn... where have I heard that before? And why does it sound... feminine? The fox smiled. "Ye probably guessed't, I'm no male. T'these drunken thugs, I'm Fruyng, guard to prisoners."
"Gylphyn the Brave." Silverwing smiled back. She untwisted her leg and rubbed her head as she was released from her chains.
Gylphyn half-smiled shyly. "You asked how you could repay you?"
"Of course!" Silverwing felt ready to offer anything.
Gylphyn's smile broadened. "Tonight, I too'll escape. I... well... Sallamannastron's nearest. D-d'ya think thatcha could 'elp me? 'Ide m'there?"
"I'd love to, but..." Shouts came from far away.
"Fruyng! Where are ye, ye worthless scum?"
Gylphyn turned back to Silverwing and tried to hide her panic. "Go!" she ordered. "Don' worry 'bout me!"
The hare gave her a frightened look, then dived off the side of the ship. Suddenly everything went black as the hare hit the water!
Oh... my head. It was her first clear thought in days as she lay in the scorching sun. My head... how it aches! She tried to sit up, but her head, like a weighty magnet, discombobulated her. The fox's vision swam, but she managed to stand up somehow. The fox staggered a bit.
She groaned. She collapsed on the ground again. "Silverwing, oh Silverwing, did ye make it t'Sallamannastron?"
"Yes, Gylphyn, I did." A sweet voice replied.
Gylphyn stood quickly in shock, and everything whirled around. "Uhhhhhh..."
"Take it easy." A hare came over and grabbed the fox's paw. "You must've done something in the battle against the vermin to severely injure your head. You're lucky t'be alive!"
"Oh, Silverwing... I fought them... killed... all but five... including Grosy... but couldn't... get... Th'Boss..." Gylphyn wheezed.
"The Boss?" The hare asked.
"Aye... big rat... with burning red eyes... and... whip-like tail... tyrant... like... his... father." The fox began to regain her breath. Her eyes glowed as she told of Cluny the Scourge's son. "He's sailing fer Sallamannastron, hell-bent on revenge on Ky."
Silverwing groaned. "He can't be more of a tyrant than Ky."
Gylphyn opened her eyes a little wider. "Oh, so the rumors about Lord Kytrae Wingblade are true?"
"That 'e threatens 'is 'Ares int'suicide?"
The hare smiled grimly. "Aye, 'tis true."
"No! An' ye stay wi'im?"
"Aye, but 'tis no fun. Not like Lady Spearlady." Silverwing said wistfully.
"Why don'ye leave Sallamannastron if'n Ky's a tyrant?" Gylphyn asked thoughtfully.
"I am loyal t'my oath of being a Guardian of Salamandastron." The hare said simply.
The fox nodded. "Then Lord Kytrae is truly lucky to have you as a Guardian."
Silverwing shrugged. "I guess."