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A Squirrel's Tail

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This is a fan fiction story by Mossrose. It is not considered canon, nor is it a policy or guideline.

Prologue: The Shipwreck

The force of the gale was intense, wreaking considerable damage upon the ship in the ocean far below.
A battle was going on, Captain Cossan Birchbark knew, between ship and storm. Outside his cabin he could already hear the ship breaking up in the lashing seas. The battle was almost over, and not in his favour.
The squirrel rushed to the deck of his beleaguered vessel just as a massive bolt of lighting struck the main-mast, causing the great ship to shudder from prow to stern. Cossan leapt nimbly out of the way as the disengaged topsail crashed to the broken deck before him, then cautiously made his way toward the for'ard cabin.
This particular storm had lasted twelve days yet, and one thing any experienced captain knew was sometimes a beast had to leave his ship behind. The battle was lost. Throwing caution to the winds, he broke into a haphazard run to the for'ard cabin.
Once safely inside, Cossan took out his sword and began beating out a clamourous alarm on a selection of copper pots, much to the relief of his weary crew.
"The time has come. Get the lifeboats ready, Jasher! Every-beast! Abandon ship! Abandon sh-" The squirrel's shout was cut off short as the entire vessel struck a jagged, half-submerged rock, sending loose objects and crewmembers flying.
Any semblance of order became chaos after a lantern was flung forcefully from its iron ring into the midst of the cabin, setting a small blaze, which became an inferno as it devoured a spilled grog on the room floor.
As crew-beasts jostled and pushed in their panicked rush to escape the burning cabin, two young creatures were forgotten and left inside.
Soon lifeboats were splashing into the rough seas, and still the forgotten young ones sat silent in the corner of the room, motionless with terror.
They were at the mercy of the Western Sea.

Chapter 1: North Coast

It was dark, damp, cold on the narrow beach. There we were, Darrin and Mossrose- we sat there, just us, not even fifteen seasons of age between the two of us and not half that many meters to the rushing tide line that sought us out.
We stayed on that shore until morning's first light and when we had enough visibility we crawled up the rough sand with all our strength. That was the slowest day of my life.
Millica Shellstrew found us both at noonbreak. I remember the seadog as well as I can remember that day: she had dark brown fur, thick as a bristle brush; sea green eyes that reflected the sun's bright glow; smile lines that told of happier times seen. In my eyes, she was the oddest animal a person could see(I had never seen a river dog before). All the same she made us feel so safe from anything that could hurt us.
Millie, as we came to call her in later days, had a rough shanty house she built from driftwood and bark with two hammocks and a small cot inside on which we slept each night.
And did she make the most delicious stews a person could eat? Though I had tried a few, in my perspective she was the best cook in all the world.

.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-

Five seasons went by so fast. Darrin and I had grown into adventurous young squirrels. Darrin could juggle acorns, and I could play the reed flute Millie had given me for my seventh seasonday. I could tell that our godmother was truly proud of us both.
I sat on the tussock, watching the waves roll and softly wash against the cliffside below; the gentle breeze whispering in my ears; the grass flowed and billowed happily, bending to the will of the wind.
Darrin walked up behind me, then put his paw on my shoulder. It was time to go.
We had been planning since the first day of Spring, of which it was now the fifteenth, to leave Millie's meagre cottage and venture out into the vast world beyond North Coast. After all, we were both ten seasons old. We were world-wise, were we not? We could handle ourselves. Couldn't we?
We crept into the house, our steps light lest the creaking of floor-boards give us away. Darrin's paws instantly closed around the rough grip of the old rusted sword that lay on brackets above the mantel. Mine moved to simpler things: a few green apples, an oat-farl, a bottle of plum cordial. We each took a rough, homespun travelling cloak and a walking staff apiece.
Then as swiftly as we had come, we left the house.
We took the South Road, which was more a barely vague path than a road.
Trodding along lightly, we chattered cheerily and soaked in the new freedom we enjoyed.
My thoughts strayed to Millie; what she would think of our escapade- going off without so much as consulting her advice. She was probably sick with worry. But, I had left a note; that should do.
Darrin broke into my thoughts, "Hey, it's gettin' late. We'll need someplace to stay. But there's any number of inns along this stretch. Right?"
"Uh, I don't know. Maybe."
"What if there aren't any?"
"Then there won't be any."
"We'll be out here. In the open. At night! Millie said it's dangerous on the South Road at night."
"You're a squirrel, aren't you. We can sleep in trees, silly."
"Oh right. Silly me!"
After an hour of walking, pawsore and weary, with no inn in sight- we made do with an old elm tree, with sheltered branches that could not easily be spotted by malefactors traversing the Road nearby.
Morning arrived, damp and cold, with a heavy fog to make matters worse.
I climbed down from the elm, rubbing life into paws and limbs, frigid and hungry.
Darrin hopped down beside me. "Brr-r! What a freezin' night!"
"You can say that again. Well, here we are; we should make as much as we can of this weather," I said wearily.
Darrin hoisted the old sword, and I the haversack, and we set out to rejoin the Road.
After a short rummage through the bag, I came up with a frozen oat-farl and tossed it to Darrin. "Here. It's better than nothing."
"We'll need a fire to heat these up. They'd break my teeth, and what's more they'd choke in my throat- they're so solid."
I agreed whole-heartedly. "Let's get one going then. I've got flint."
A fire was much welcome, and we huddled around it, warming our farls. We ate in silence, focused more on keeping warmth than keeping up light conversation and such frivolity.
It was well past noon before the sun's rays penetrated the thick cloud cover. The fog began to lift, and we set off again.
The warmer air was very much appreciated and we picked our pace up with light spirits.
"Hi, friends!"
Both of our heads turned in surprise. "Who said that?"
The weasel who had spoken jumped nimbly from an overhanging branch, and landed easily in the road before us. She offered a paw to shake. "My name is Goldenrod. What's yours?"
So taken aback were we that we sat staring at her for a few moments.
Darrin looked regarded her suspiciously, but held took the paw and shook it anyway. "I'm Darrin. This is Mossy."
"Well, yae caen tawk t'en, eyah? I thought yae wood set ehr all day wit yeer mouffs hanging I did." Then she laughed, and it was the loudest, most annoying cackle we had ever suffered hearing. "Eyahahahaaahoo!"
Darrin and I covered our ears. Yikes that's horrid. You really need to learn to laugh right, I thought to myself, but didn't say anything since it might hurt her feelings.
We eyed her with not a little suspicion, and Darrin at long last said, "So you're not going to try an' rob us?"
The weasel cackled. "Robb yae, 'eavens noo. I ain't no' a robber! Wa maeks yae t'ihnk t'ah, eyah?"
"Well...you're, um, a weasel..." Darrin said awkwardly, shuffling his footpaws.
"Soo t'ah's eh' t'en, eyah?" Goldenrod crossed her arms. "Waer no' all baed, me loof. Look ehr, I wits the place, me sweets. I'll shoow yaeround, hows 'at?"
Darrin considered this for a long moment. "Alright. We're looking for an inn, or someplace else to get a good meal."
The weasel smirked. "An' yae'll no' be faendin' one. T'is rood lehds t' Sallermundastrung. 'Ares, nasty mean beasties. T'ey'll no' welcome a puir weasel like me seff, 'earts."
I exchanged a glance with Darrin. "Well, thanks anyway."

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