Dust rose in thick clouds on the path to Fairwick Castle as all manner of beasts came from the surrounding vastness of Green Forest to Sunbright's meadow where the Spring Festival was to be held. Gaily colored carts and tents of every hue were popping up all along the path as bright pennants fluttered in the breeze.
The young mouse, Benifarin or "Ben" as he was usually called, struggled with a large roll of brightly colored silk as he was watched over by his mentor, the shopkeeper Lurth, a large, stern and often bad-tempered mouse in his middle seasons.
Ben had never known his father or mother, they had died only a week after he was born, or so he was told. Lurth didn't take kindly to too many questions about Ben's past. As far as he'd been told, his parents were farmers living outside the walls of Fairglen Village. His aunt, Lurth's wife would visit her sister often and one day found the cottage burnt to the ground and both Ben's parents lying slain. The babe was heard wailing from a hidden storeroom in the cellar and taken home to live with them. His aunt died two seasons later of a strange illness. Still dealing with his grief and not knowing what to do with a child, Lurth was often brusque and short tempered with young Ben who, in turn, would hide inside himself or run away, for days even. Now that he was nearing adulthood, Ben decided to stay out his time to learn his trade and wait for adventure to find him.
As the young mouse stacked the last of the silk he spotted a brightly dressed hare leaning nonchalantly in the doorway. Ben stepped off the ladder to see what he wanted.
- "How may I help you sir?"
The hare flashed a dashing smile and tipped his belled green and orange hat.
- "I am looking for someone. Have you, perchance seen any suspicious characters about here lately? Smallish blighter, wearing a bright cloak and can't keep his greedy paws off of sweet stuff."
Ben shook his head. "I'm sorry sir. There are an aweful lot of folks about lately and a beast can't keep up with them all. I'll tell ye if I see him, though."
The hare smiled, nodded and was gone. Ben had just finished ordering rolls of lace when Lurth entered from his workshop in the back of the store. He handed the surprised Ben several silver coins and patted him heartily on the back, his booming voice filling the room.
- "What's a youngbeast like ye doin' in this stuffy ol' place on such a merry day as this? Off wit ye an' have a good time, 'tis an 'holiday!"
He propelled the even-more-baffled Ben out the door and into the lane. Lurth mistook his dumbfoundedness and said, "Why the long face, Ben? I'll be keepin' an eye on the shop whilst ye're gone, now go on afore I change me mind!" The idea of Lurth changing his mind snapped Ben from his stupor and he bowed as he dashed off, blurting his thanks. "Thank ye kindly, sir."
Slayo the ottermaid watched lazily as her dirk thudded into the tree, spearing the acorn target through the center. Her friend, Breezelew Langfar Speedpaw Deftbob let out a sigh of defeat as he retrieved her and his dirks from their various places; hers dead center of the target and his in a bush at the foot of the elm.
- "Get that jolly smirk off y'bloomin' bonce. I could've hit it with me eyes closed if it weren't for that flippin' wind blowing all of a sudden."
Slayo rolled her eyes.
- "You silly hare-brained hare. There's been nought of wind for days, so ye can't use that excuse on me."
Breezelew tramped off in a huff, chunnering to himself.