The darkness of the night enveloped the abbey of Redwall. A squirrel in her primes sat in a cozy armchair. This squirrel was Songbreeze Swifteye, the not so young yet not so old Abbes of Redwall abbey. She was usually a cheerful and energetic beast, even at night. However this time she laid reserved in her abbess study. She was spacing out, paw on her chin, pondering and groping through her mind, in search for some bygone thought. A pounding on the door pulled her out of the reverie.
- "Come in!" She said, as she shook off the drowsiness.
A young mouse, dressed in night gown and hat, came in and scampered near the abbess.
- The Abbess scolded the young mouse, thought her sweet voice hid any reprimand “Dropple, you young rip, wot are you doing up at this late hour!?"
Young Dropple looks at her with innocent little eyes
- Being friendly with moles, the mouse tried to imitate rustic mole speech “Oi can't asleep."
- "Maybe ye will if ye stop being a mole, hehe." The abbess nipped his nose playfully. Suddenly, he looked at her seriously.
- "Could ye tell me a story, Miss Song?" He asked with his upmost serious expression
Dropple pranced cheerfully when Songbreeze nodded. She asked what kind of tale the mouse wanted told. Dropple pondered like the abbess had done, and by a Ding, he came up with an idea. He scurried away, leaving the squirrel alone once again. Time passed by, stars popped in the sky like popcorn. The abbess became preoccupied, and was up and ready to search for the little scamp as he entered the room. He was steadily dragging a grey great book almost as thick as his body was tall. Coming to the rescue, Song picked up the book and almost let fly out her grasp.
- "Wots T'is?" She asked, surprised by how light-weighted the book was.
- "Story book, foundit in Gatehouse."
Song was absolutely baffled. From all the times she had helped her ole mum with organizing records or disasters, she had never seen a book quite like this one before. The cover was completely grey, while the spine was a ghastly shaded blue. The back was blank, while the cover had a lighter shaded gray, accompanied by a turquoise colored frame. Inside that frame was a black and white picture of a mousemaid with odd apparel. The picture showed the creature's back, craning her head over the left shoulder. She wore a hat as odd as her dress, similarly designed, and carried a weird domed shaped contraction, connected in the epicenter by a pole coming from her face opposite shoulder. Her tiny face showed indifference. Her left arm was barely visible, and her feet were completely covered by her long, also domed shaped, bottom part dress. Her long tail, coming out of an aperture from her bottom clothing, laid lazily on the cover's invisible platform. The abbes thought the drawing well done. She may have wondered who the mousemaid was, if it was not for Dropple pleading her to open the book already. She obliged, and read out loud a little poem in the very first page.
I'm no book, nor tablet, nor scroll
I am a tome
Telling stories beyond belief
good and bad, true or false
light or dark, and sometimes bland.
Feelings of shock, feelings of grief
sadness, happiness, or perhaps disbelief
all twirling like petals in the breeze.
do you dare to see?
She looked quizzically at Dropple as her gorgeous voice subsided. A look from his now even more excited face forced her to continue onward. A single phrase filled the whole next page in giant black letters.
Enjoy, Abbess-sama. Hehehehehehehe
Thought a little crept out; Abbess Songbreeze Swifteye caught young Dropple excitement. She curiously flipped to the next page.....
It was dark and stormy night, a night of sorrow and despair. Rain poured as the wind howled like a wild beast. The sky's anger ripped down across the great expanses of water. At its center laid an Island, and at the center of that island stood a formidable castle. Two creatures exited and ran away from it, as if it where a dream they like to escape. They ran towards the nearest cliff side, which had a dock at the bottom. The youngest creature, a fox with an odd silver fur color, turned her head towards the other creature.
- "How much more?" She asked.
The elder, also an odd silver furred fox, turned his head toward his daughter and exclaimed. "Almost there, just keep running!"
As they reached the docks, soft footsteps noises were caught by the elder's keen ears. He cursed under his breath and directed his daughter to climb down. She obliged without argument.
- "Jeudy, my darling, escape. Get away from this place of evil!" The Elder shouted.
- "What about the others?" She argued.
- "It pains me to say this," He said while clutching his heart, and through gritted teeth. "But it is already too late for them." When she was almost at the bottom, he looked behind him, he saw rats in uniform approaching, spears at the ready. With a determined expression he said. "Go, get in the boat and paddle with all your might."
- "But, what about you!?" She wailed with tears in her eyes.
The elder fox didn't answer, but shut his eyes and produce his lancer fighting stance. Right leg front and bent, left leg back and stretched; right arm outreached out front, left arm outstretched by his side, making the poleaxe seem like and extension of his paw. Drying her tears away, only to be replace by rainwater, Jeudy began to paddle rapidly into the enormous lake. The Elder took and a deep breath, and exhaled, then charged. He moved like lightning; poleaxing, but not killing, anyone that stood in his path. He avoided most blows of the rats spears, leaving him with barely any injury when they suddenly stopped dead. He followed their example.
A slim figure strode slowly out the castle and into the grounds.
- "Well, my dear?" Said the newcomer, another female fox, furred with the same odd silver.
The air seemed to become denser as she spoke. Walking at her same pace, she stopped a few inches from the male fox. Her voice was like poison as she spoke, grinning. "Well, my dear Altu. What a surprise seeing you here." nobeast said a thing as she continued speaking.
- "My, after all we have been through. Our younger seasons, conquering these fools" She waved her arms all around her. "And seeing this castle being constructed." She shook her head. "Is all this for our little dispute yesterday?".
A deathly silence followed, only broken by the crows of the magpies overhead. Altu looked back and saw a group of five young magpies soaring away towards her daughter's boat, the one at the front had an incredible wing span.
- "No matter, did you really believed you could steal away one of my children without notice?" The elder female said with a tone of anger in her smile.
- "I was hoping to." Altu answered. Without wasting any more time, he tossed his poleaxe at the receding figures. Normally, this would have fallen hopelessly short. Fortunately, Altu was not a normal fox. The poleaxe spun around high and true, like an oversize hand axe.
It whacked the magpie unconscious. Most of them fell into the water, were they became easy prey for the flesh eaters living in it. The huge magpie however, fell inside Jeudy's boat, along with the poleaxe. She took no notice of them
Facing the vixen, Altu smiled triumphantly. Her face was one of pity and boredom. "Shame." she said. "She could have become a great marlfox, and you and I could became great rulers."
Altu's paw began to shine with strange symbols. "Ha, don't make me laugh." he said, though is face showed no sign of mirth. "Don't you dare talk about my daughter like that Silth". Silth's face betrayed a hint of fear, but she remained unmoved as she drew a knife.
- "You don't frighten me!" She exclaimed as she drew forward
- "Oh, but I should." Altu said with a maniacal smile, made worse by the glow of his left paw.
They both charged, their bloodcurdling cries adding to the noise of the storm. The guards remained motionless in awe. Paw and knife found their marks, the heart. As the shine from Altu's paw faded, a grin smile ran across his face. He chuckled faintly as he fell backwards, removing the dagger to let the blood flow free from his body.Thus he died, his face still smiling. Silth face was one of distorted anger as she clutched her own heart, despite not taking any physical damage. Her howl of rage rose above the raging storm.
Jeudy did not had see to know what had taken place. Tears and rain pour freely down her cheeks as she paddled away from her sorrow, the magpie and poleaxe still alongside her.
Book I: The Smiling Vixen
Chapter I: Many Years Later
Jeudy would gaze into the vastness of this same lake many seasons later. Its winter, but the day was full of sunshine and pretty warm as she sat down besides the shoreline, the waves nearly touching her feet. Her expression was dazzling and her smile serene, while she stared with longing at the enormous lake. Nobeast, not the birds overhead nor the creatures pacing through the beach notice her presence. It was like she was one with the sand.
- "Ma'am Jeudy, are ye there?" A rough voice asked.
Materializing from her spot, she turned around to gaze into the plump figure of an orange dormouse in nautical apparel. Behind him was an expertly crafted boat, being pulled by a thick rope.
- "Is finish?" she said with a childish tone of voice.
- "Aye aye, ma'am, ready fer navigation an' venture." the dormouse answered, as he hauled the boat into the shoreline effortlessly.
- "Then let us leave." She said while jumping aboard and graving an oar, her smile radiating excitement.
- "Are ye sure ye want tae do t'is, ma'am?" The plump dormouse asked concerned, as he followed her example.
Her eyes seem to sparkle as she turned her face towards him.
- "I can't avoid this place forever." She responded simply.
They sailed into the small sea. Gulls and other nautical birds squawked overhead, giving the scenery a wave of calmness. Jeudy hummed a small and beautiful tune in response to the peaceful atmosphere. Their whole two and a half day and trip, from coast to island, went completely uninterrupted. Jeudy produce a long rope with a grappling hook from a sack at the boats behind.
- "Are you staying here, Sieg?" Jeudy asked.
- "Aye, ma'am." Sieg the dormouse responded. "Somebeast gots tae watc' our vessel, an' ye know I be no climber."
Atop of the mountainous plateau, a fearsome but odd looking Osprey landed atop watch tower. He had flown and observed the travelers whole journey with it's keen eyes. It remained perched atop the castle, unmoving, waiting for the right moment to act.
Chapter II: Redundant fear
Above, on the island, a water rat laid on top of a boulder near the cliff's edge, gazing into the ocean from above. He sat up and gazed into the horizon's beautiful and peaceful visage. There was nothing better for him to do. Everything has been taken care of. The new gardens had been tended, but they had some seasons left before they sprouted. He and the other inhabitants could survive on fish until then. The inside of the castle has been thoroughly cleanse, no spot forgotten. And the slave pens where dismantled, they were a bad memory from darker times. A wave of calmness overtook him, and he may have drifted into slumber, if it wasn't for a clanking sound nearby.
- "Wit tha." He muttered, rubbing away the sleep from his eyes. He heard another clank, this time it came accompanied by a grappling hook attaching itself between two boulders nearby. The rat remained dumbfounded for a moment. He peered over the edge where the rope materialized. What he saw made him giggle softly.
- "I must be daydreamin' or sumthin'" He said while rubbing his eyes once more and smiling foolishly. He eyed the precipice again, but this time his smiled transformed into a frown of panic. His apparition had not disappeared, for he saw clearly the figure of a Marlfox climbing the rope. A sense of dread overtook him, and he did he only sensible thing he could think of: Warn the others.
The water rat ran, and ran, and ran as fast as he could. He arrive panting and out of breath into the dormitories.
- "Toolam, wots gotten inte ye, mate?" A concerned water rat approaching him asked.
The rat named Toolam hesitated, but then he stuttered out loud
- “Ma, ma, mar... Marlfox!"
These words caused great commotion. There were feelings of shock and a lot of chattering and muttering between the rats in the room.
- "Can't it be?!"
- "Are ye shure?!"
- "Somebeas', get the weapons!"
- "There is not weapons!"
- "Get poles, utensils, anythin'! Just find somethin!"
- "But...but it'll kill us!"
- Over the noise, the rat that greeted Toolam asked, somewhat calmly. "Are ye certain abou' t'is,mate?"
Toolam composed himself and answered. "Aye, Durrlow, as sure as Megraw eats pikes. I clearly saw it climbing the cliff side behin' the castle."
Some color faded from Durrlow's skin. Before he could further the conversation, however, the dormitory door was burst open, rather forcefully. A brown and white osprey stood on the doorway, staring at the crowd of water rats with piercing golden eyes.
- "Keraagh!" He shrieked, creating silence "Wot's all t'is ruckus about!?.... Well?"
- A shivering rat answered, masking anxiety caused by the osprey’s presence "Um... Megraw..., we 'ave got a visitor?"
- The fearsome eyes glared hard at the speaker as he entered the room. "That's Sir Megraw to ye." He said with a dangerous tone. "Now, wot's t'is about a visitor?"
- Durrlow stepped forward, confident that Megraw would harm them. He had notice the relation between subject and ruler growing stronger "Megraw, sir, there is a Marlfox in the Isle!" answered Durrlow
Megraw's pupils narrowed. "Marlfox, ye say, heh!" He said calmly. Megraw closed his lids, seemingly in thought.
- "Keeeeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrraaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh! Attention!"
In a whim, all the rats stood firmly. The Osprey paraded in front of the rats up and down inside the room in a military fashion.
- "Now me lads, if wot Durrlow said is true, listen carefully. Since there is no weapons left on mah Isle, I want ye to grab anythin' that can be used as tae hit, alert the others as well. Now who saw t'is marlfox?"
Toolam hesitated but raised his paw. He was immediately singled out by Megraw's long wing. "Ye, show me where t'is marlfox is. The others come as soon ye'er armed. Carry on!"
Suddenly, the castle was alive. Rats scoured everywhere for anything they could use to defend themselves against the treat that endangered their peaceful way of life. All the while, Toolam showed the big osprey where he had seen their target. Obviously, the marlfox had already climbed and left, fortunately leaving tracks that a fool could follow. It leaded right into the woods. It did not take long to find it, but when they finally found it, they saw something far from what they expected. The marlfox, a female, lied down in the pasture, outstretched. She had not felt the newcomers’ presence.
- "There something different about this place." They heard her saying. "It’s more... colorful, serene, perhaps. I feel it in the air around. Like a great curse was lifted from it. Is so peaceful, anybeast could just fall sleep." She actually made as to sleep: stretching, yawning and rolling over, not facing her two watchers.
Chapter III: Sir Megraw
Megraw and Toolam remained still, stunned from bewilderment at this development. Megraw recovered first and whispered in the rat's ear. "Who be this?"
- "I think is the marlfox, sir" Responded Toolam, still confused
Megraw whisper was loud enough to bring Toolam back to his senses. "Keraagh, I see that, oaf. I mean, which one is it?"
- "Does it matter? They all look the same." Toolam said indifferently. "T'is one is no different."
Megraw nodded in agreement and sighed. His eyes narrowed, increasing his fearsomeness. He took a short flight, somersaulted in mid-air, landing right next to the sleeping figure. It really looked like she was sleeping, no sign of deceit. "If she is really asleep." The bird thought. "Let’s makes this swift." He attacked with his powerful beak, only to strike soft earth; the vixen had rolled over further. The osprey made three more attempts, to no avail. Rats came pouring into the forest, makeshift weapons at hand. The fox had come awake at Megraw's last attempt, and took her surrounding like she had never been there. Rubbing the weariness from her lids, she finally seemed to notice the creatures around her. She waved and smiled warmly. "Hello, Everybeast."
None of these creatures have ever been more bewildered in their entire lives. The beast the rats dreaded the most, stood there, giving then a welcome, radiating an aura of innocence even a fool could sense; they could not deny it. Megraw was the first to abandon his dumb expression.
- "Identify yerself!" He pointed his right wing at the silver fox.
- "Sure thing." She said innocently. "Beasts call me Jeudy. Who may you be, Mr. Birdy?"
It appears Megraw took it as an insult being call "Mr. Birdy". He spread his wings warningly.
- "Keraaagh!!!! Ye think yerrah funneh, don't ya! Ye 'ave landed on the isle of Mighty Megraw. And Ye'll be punish fer yer impudence!"
Jeudy stood up and made an elegant bow in response. "I'm sorry, Sir Megraw, I did not mean to offend you." But her attempt at being civil only seemed to infuriate Megraw further.
- "No Please..." She said when noticing Megraw readying himself for an assault. The eagle was beyond conversations. He launched himself at her, talons and beck ready to pierce flesh.
Chapter IV: Fateful occurrences
A flash of black, and Megraw was knocked into a nearby tree. ‘’Thud!!!’’ He slid down and recovered, only to find the situation even more awkward than it already was. A large, about his own size, osprey looking bird stood right before his eyes. It was a sight even stranger than the seemingly innocent marlfox. Its body was one of an osprey, but everything that should be a shade of gray was black. The creature reminded him of something he hated.
Megraw made sure he had not hit himself too hard against the tree. The creature was no hallucination. The strange bird extended its wings at full extend, which Megraw notice where as longs his own. It spoke
- He pointed at Jeudy with his long dark wing "Keraaaagh. Ye'll not damage yon fox."
That was enough to return Megraw to his enraged state.
"No Beast tells Megraw wot tae do. Especially 'um like ye!!!" He moved and struck, but the dark osprey parried and struck back. Soon both birds where locked in combat, pecking with their fearsome beaks, chopping with their powerful wings, and scratching with their sharp talons. The rats observed in awe at the fast paced battle. They did not even notice the marlfox approaching them until she said "Hellooo…" in Toolam’s face. They flinched the moment she spoke.
- "Wots wrong with you all?” She said concerned “You creatures look like you have seen a monster."
All of the rats remained frozen with mixed feelings. Jeudy's smile became grim. She tried a different approach. She came neared and rubbed her stomach, presenting a sweet smile.
- "I'm mighty hungry. Anybeast knows where can I get some grub?"
- She waited for an answer. Obtaining none, she sighed and made a signal with her paws. "Colb, please stop. Come with me."
Immediately, the Dark Osprey backed away and flew to perch onto the vixen shoulders. He did not appear badly damaged. They left before Megraw, who seemed to have taken considerably more damage, had a chance to retaliate. The maddened bird made and ear-splitting screech as he took flight. The king of the isle circled his territory, intending on finding the intruders. It took him some time to realize he could not see a trace of then. He have expected the Marlfox to disappear, but not that strange osprey he hated by instinct. With an angry “Keraagg!” he returned in shame inside the confines of the castle. His frustration would have, usually, caused him to take it on the rats, but there was only one creature he wanted to harm at the moment. The rats poured back into their home, still very dumbfounded at today's events. None greeted Megraw as they passed by him; they feared the bird would burst, even if they had grown somewhat fond of each other. The only thing Megraw did was as close as a bird would come to grit teeth.
On a spot not far away from the castle, a fox and bird materialize out of nowhere. As Colb left to hunt, Jeudy sat by the rock she used for climbing, mediating on today's happenings. A weak voice alerted her and made her look back.
- "So, ye'r Jeudy." The voice was one of an elderly rat, grayed with age. “Most rats may not remember, for we 'ave 'ad a arduous life. But... are ye The Jeudy, the Sixth cup of Queen Silth and King Altu brethren?"
Jeudy's eyes started to moist at the mention of Altu, but her smile did not faltered.
- "I 'eard ye where 'ungry." The rat produced an apple from his tunic and tosses it to her. She caught it with both hand. The elder continued his narrative as she munched gratefully at the plain fruit.
- "As I said, we 'ad 'ard living under yore mothers rule after..."
Jeudy made a hard knuckle, but said nothing while the rat continued speaking.
- "I can see ye 'ave no vile intentions, but I don't believe yore show of innocence can convince me comrades. They know better. Ye're siblings did not made our life any easier."
A moment of silence followed the elder’s story. Jeudy's smile had not receded in the least, but tears ran down her cheek as fluently as a waterfall. She Stood up and marched to the cliff edge
- "I'm leaving." She said through closed eyes. "Don't wanna make anybeast uncomfortable." She suddenly jumped down the cliff and quickly landed on her boat, which swaggered to and fro dangerously. The elder rat did not seem surprised or shocked in the least.
- "Like father, like daughter, I guess. Heheheheh."
As the boat stabilized, the vixen was greeted by a shocked dormouse and an indifferent osprey, apparently undisturbed by the fox landing.
- "Back se soon?" Asked Sieg the dormouse. "Well, how did it went, ma'am?"
No sign of sorrow could be found on Jeudy's face as she responded
- "Better than expected. I knew nothing nice for me would come out it. At least the island is happy now."
- "Full of rude beasts." Colb remarked crudely
The Dark osprey crowed with delight as Jeudy caressed his back.
- "Well.... I guess they have a reason." She said cheerfully.
Chapter V: Longing
Back on the great lake, Jeudy and her companions discussed their next destinations. Having fulfilled her self-appointed mission, the vixen was not sure where to go next.
- “So where to, Ma’am?”
- The vixen closes her lids, lying down on the boat’s floor. “Mmmmm… I’m not in a hurry to go back home. Where do you think we should go, Colb?”
- The black bird shrugged and preened his left wing feathers. He got ready for takeoff. “Karaaagh, where ye go, I follow. I’ll be off now.”
Jeudy observed as the dark osprey flew away; away into the vast and peaceful azure world. He joined a flock of seagulls that did not seem to mind his presence. They were all attentive and sharp for sight of prey. The preying birds made something click in Sieg’s head.
- “I wonder, where all the pikes are? We are almost to shore and all this time I’ve seen none since we arrived “No sooner had he finished his sentenced that his oar was roughly torn from his grasp. Peering overboard, he stared into the enormous head of a pike, munching the oar and rendering it useless.
- “Mayhaps I spoke too soon.”
Jeudy had immediately hauled her oar in. She also took a peek at the lake. What she saw made her groan a little, thought her smiled still did not faltered. Many pike heads out of the water, popcorn like.
- “They look hungry.” She said, pointing out the obvious.
- The dormouse rolled his eyes where she could not see. “Aye, ma’am, and I believe they found dinner.” His voice was half-filled with sarcasm. His ears stood up as he heard a familiar screech, full of delight.
- “Karaaaagh, not quite, me lad.” It was Colb, leading charge of a bunch of hungry-looking seagulls into the water. “More lik, we found dinner!” The seagulls shrieked delightfully at the sight of fish. Many pikes had already submerged by the time the birds arrived, but there was still enough for each of them to grab. Thanks to them, Sieg was able to paddle the boat to shore in a few hours time. They moored where the bird’s piled up their loot. All of them, including Colb, circle around it and cried excitedly.
- Jeudy sighed with longing at sigh of the birds mingling. “Sometimes, I’m jealous of him. He can get along with almost any bird. I can’t get along with any earth crawler, as he would put it, not from this realm, anyway.”
- Sieg patted her back softly, trying to comfort her. “Now, now, Ma’am. Is not ye, is the creature ‘ere bouts.”
Jeudy continued gazing longingly at the birds. Turning her head to look at the Dormouse, she childishly put a paw-finger on her cheek and leaned her head to one side. “Think we could travel up river, in the river?”
Sieg moved swiftly over and inspected the river nearby. Now it was a dangerous rapid current, fool of foaming water, sharps rocks, and nearly un-maneuverable flow. The dormouse thought for a moment, toying with his whiskers and twirling the end of his tail with a paw.
- “Mmmmm… If we porterage ‘er and get out of t’is rapids, then yes, Ma’am.”
- Jeudy lifted the boat with ease, enthusiastically. “Then let’s, I go first!”
The odd pair traveled up the river, Jeudy carrying the boat on her back with no apparent strain. Leaving the dark osprey dine with his fellow sea birds.
A lone rat crawled on all fours thought the great forest. His bright brown eyes were vigilant, ears were erect, and his nose was always sniffing about. The rat wore nothing, nothing at all, except for a carefully tucked in blue-colored loincloth. The light blue fur from his back stood up, always alert for trouble. The rat stopped for a moment. He lied on his belly and rested his chin on his paws, gazing around the countryside. He fell longing, longing to be back home, out of this strange country. He knew, however, his quest must end before returning. Determined, the blue rat stood up and continue searching, always sniffing about.
Chapter VI: Shrews
At the heart of the country of Mossflower country the vastness of trunked trees revealed a colossal watermeadow, created in a wide shallow basin and the meeting of two watercourses. Mid-afternoon heat, surprisingly warm for a winter’s day, shimmered on the horizon as Log-a-Log, chieftain of the Guosim, sat on the bank of this shallow pool alongside his shrews. The Guerrilla union of Shrews in Mossflower beast, very argumentative by nature, conversed in a not so friendly manner as they enjoyed a day of fishing. The Log-a-Log had caught many a brown trout, and proceeded to catch another. His ears stood as he got ready to jump on his boat. He listened to the soft splashes coming their way. He stopped midway and retreated, having gone halfway into his boat. He dropped his fishing net to cup his paws over his mouth, making a long undulating call.
They stopped at whatever they were doing to watch the approaching boat skimming through the water, and mooring themselves on shore.
- “Finaly, Mayon an’ the others are back.”
- “Aye mate, t’was getting’ boring o’ doin’ nothin’.”
- “Talk fer yerself, I catched lots of fishies.”
- “Yeah, ye cached me fishes.”
- “Is not my fault yer snout scare then off.”
- “Look who’s talking, wobbled snout.’’
- “Wobbled snout?! Listen….!”
The young chieftain chuckled softly at the arguments of his subordinates. “Déjà vu.” He waves his paws, beckoning to shrew nearby.
- “Splinker, mate, see to it that this silly mouths are fed.”
Log-a-log motioned them to sit and help themselves to a beaker of strawberry fizz and some parcels of bread as they waited for the cooks to bake their catches. They were soon joined by Mayon and his scouts.
- “Is there anything interesting tae report, Mayon? Log-a-log asked through a gulp of fizz."
- Mayon’s body was rigid and his voice tense as he made his report. “Everything was clear, at least until we made our way back.”
The edginess in Mayon’s voice caused even the most argumentative shrews to direct their attentions to him. They all seemed curious as to what he had to say.
- “The shrew chieftain was hasty in asking Mayon to continue, having become intrigued as well. “Wot when on, Mayon?
- “We all thought them wus gone, but as we made our way ‘ere… We saw um, a Marlfox.”
Mayon's report created various responses of disbelief amongst the shrews.
- “Marlfox? I don’t believe it.”
- “Ye must have ‘it yerself in the ‘ead, Mayon.”
- “Aye, we counted, they are no more.”
- “ T’is could be another Marlfox.”
- “’Um who shows up after the other eight are dead. Don’t think so.”
- “It could be a coincidence, ye lot of bottom brains!”
- “ Bottom brain yerself, ye…”
“Logalogalogalogalooooooooooog.” Birds flew from their perching sites and into the sky at Log-a-log’s piercing cry. He waited until every beast was paying diligent attention to his say. “Mayon, please, describe to us t’is curious event.”
Surprisingly, Mayon was able to complete his detailed report without further interruption .
- “ As I was saying, chief, we wus making our way back from a dull scouting trip, t’at’s when we spotted them. We wus in the side stream by then, and they did not notice us. But we saw them well enough: A marlfox being scorted by a fat dormouse with a rock ‘ard expression, in a beautifully crafted vessel, if I may add.”
Log-a-log toyed with his whiskers, apparently in deep thought. The shrews watched their leader in silence. The chieftain asked Mayon what direction the marlfox has taken. From the glimpse they saw of them, the fox and the dormouse seemed to simply be traveling up river.
- “So wot should we do, chief?” An elderly shrew asked as he stepped up.
- The Log-a-log tightened his brightly colored headband and grinned at the elder. ‘Wot else, mates. Let’s investigate this interesting event further. I’ll lead the scouting t’is time.”
Three boats sailed out the side stream and up the south stream that afternoon.
A black squirrel hanged upside down from his tail on the branch of a pine tree. He looked around the surroundings once, and then started swinging back and forth. Once enough momentum was gained, he propelled himself, made a somersault in mid air, and grabbed onto another branch from another nearby tree with his tail. He repeated the process three more times, then close his eyes and spoke to himself in a barely audible whisper. "So boring... How I wish I was not his best friend. Then perhaps I would not have cared to come with him..." He sighed once, then changed his expression into a silly grin. "...But I am, and helping each other is what friends do, so..."
The squirrel swung back and forth three times, then detached his tail when he was at the highest forward point. He made a full back flip in mid-air and landed on top of the branch on his feet. He energetically leaped from branch to branch from hence forth.
Chapter VII: Sea and good Thieves
The afternoon came and went swiftly for Jeudy and company. The orange hue in the horizon marked the start of dusk as the trio traveled aimlessly up the vast south Stream. Colb soared through the open sky, lazily flapping his wings after enjoying what many bird would have called a feast. Right below him were his two companions, the dormouse and the fox. Sieg paddled against the slow-flowing current; picking his ear and rubbing his paw afterwards against his stripped shirt out of boredom. Jeudy lied down on the boat, belly up, staring at the dark specs that birds created in the sky. She listened to the sound of singing birds perching on the branches from the myriads of trees passing endlessly by, sometimes catching Colb’s out of tune caws through the jumble on noises. Her snout caught the natural aroma of beech tress, Pines, rowan, oak, and many others. All this beauty was intoxicating to the young vixen. As the shadows advanced, she became sleepier. Sieg notice this, and refused to change shift when Jeudy’s turn to row came.
- “Nah, ma’am. Ye go ahead and rest yer mind. Let t’is ole waterbeast handle it.”
- Jeudy wasted no time to lie back down and get herself comfortable over her cape. She stretched her limps and yawned; tapping her muzzle with her left paw. “In that case, can you sing a likkle song fer me?
Sieg turned his head away, grinning uncomfortably. “Ahhh, ma’am. Ye know I ain’t no singer.”
The dormouse made the terrible mistake of turning back his head. Jeudy, still lying down, had put her paws in a begging position, inches below her muzzle. She made a sad little smile and widened her eyes. Her shining pupils made her look quite lovely. A glimpse of it left Sieg succumbed.
- “Ahhg, ye sly little fox. Ye know I can’t resist those puppy eyes of yores. Now… let me think." Sieg caressed his chin as he pondered. He narrowed his brows and wrinkled his snout in concentration. He when on like this for quite some time until he remembered a little tune called “Dream as waves”, by which time the sun has set. He kept them at their course as he sang in deep gruff voice.
Mah ole mutter once told me
That dreams are like the waves
Coming and melting away
Disappearing at the sun’s wake
As sweet as a river
As nasty as a storm
Mysterious as pikes swimming by
Drift tae sleep, mah child
Let’s discover, ye and I
Wot the waves brings us tonight.
The vixen receded into slumber as Sieg’s voice echoed and faded. The dormouse chuckled softly to himself. He came over to her and untied the knots of her cape. He skillfully slide it from under her back, careful not to so much as stir her. After covering her front with it, like a blanket, Sieg stopped a moment to caress the vixen’s forehead, in a kind of fatherly way. “Drift tae sleep, ma’am.”
Sieg returned to paddling, but this time a caring smile hovered on his face. Moments later, Jeudy’s body disappeared from existence, as if blending with the darkness enveloping the world. Soon the black mantle with white specs designs covered the surrounding skies.
Sieg was tire. He yawned, rubbed his eyes, and scratched his chin. He was indeed tire. But his will to continue onward was stronger. Plus… a surprised landing from their friendly neighborhood dark Osprey left him wide awake with shock.
- “Yaggaaa!! Sumbeast be following ye, Lad.”
- ”Uahgg, Colb, please don’t… wot beast?!
- The bird shrugged and pointed back towards the river current. “Don’t know, did nae checked. Look mouse-like from glimpse. I’ll be watching fer trouble.”
- Sieg toyed with his whisker nervously as the bird took off. “Well, as long as ma’am Jeudy remains invisible, we have a chance of meeting without hostility. Whoever t’is mice be.” He thought grimly
- “But… something in me guts tell me I know who they be.” The dormouse said out loud. “Please, let those shrews not be much short tempered…”
It soon became apparent that they where indeed being followed. Whether by coincidence or not, the dormouse did not care. Sieg’s now vigilant eyes perceive small ripples on the previously unperturbed water surface. They came closer, followed by shapes barely visible in the darkness, the soft dripping of paddle striking liquid alongside them. The dormouse did not stop paddling, but slowed down his pace. He thought that the sooner he meets his pursuers, the better. His paw once strayed near the short rapier strapped on his belt, but retracted it immediately, not wanting to be hostile unless he was sure there was threat.
Sieg’s body became tense as the shapes grew ever nearer. He took a deep breath before the creatures began arriving, and his suspicions where confirmed. His pursuers were indeed the short, spiky furred, and tap bit mean looking mouse-like creatures know as shrews: A dozen shrews aboard three well-crafted vessels, two coming from the right and one from the left.
Sieg feigned unawareness; watching the vessels on his right from the corner of his eyes. After a brief moment where neither side spoke, simply skinning through the river, a young shrew on the right front vessel took initiative.
- “Ahoy there.”
- It took the dormouse a moment to realize that he was being addressed to. Without breaking his paddling rhythm, he turned his head and lowered his gaze to stare at the young shrew. “Ahoy…”
Silence came, but was broken a moment later once again by the young shrew. “Beautiful night tonight, ain’t it? Perfect night fer river sailing.”
Sieg looked around, then turned his head back and nodded in agreement. “Aye, t’is is…”
The young one closed his eyes and nodded with a grin. The young shrew reopened his eyes and seemed to examine the dormouse. He pointed out Sieg’s familiar appearance, deducing that he was a stream faring beast.
- Sieg’s tense face suddenly turned into a relaxed grin as he remarked good naturally. “Oh, it goes beyond that. I have traveled the great expanses in me life. Not anymore thought, I prefer the quiet ole river.”
It soon became apparent that the shrews and the dormouse shared quite a few things in common. They were all stream-farers for one thing. Having a short rapier trusted across their belt was another. The new trait in common that the shrews had discovered was that Sieg was a talkative beast, and had a soft spot for sea speak. The dormouse enjoyed himself as he conversed with the shrews about seafaring life, and they actually appeared to be interested; listening to his every word and remarking with gusto. Worries forgotten Sieg became oblivious to the shrews behind him, searching the keel thoroughly.
- “Ever has any shrews venture in earthly sky?”
- A shrew, who seemed the eldest of the company, took a step forward and shook his head. “Not in me lifetime.”
- Sieg puffed his chest and crosses his arms, his face radiating with a grin that could melt ice. “Ah, I tell ye. It gives ye a feeling of freedom and adventure ye can’t find nowhere else.”
As the dormouse continued his chattering, the young shrew that first spoke to him glazed to the right. The shrews on the boat behind the dormouse's where saluting.
- The young shrew tapped his boat’s starboard with one paw and waved with the other. “Nice meeting ya, sea dormouse. Now us must go our merry way if we are tae reach home afore midnight.”
- The dormouse cupped his paws to his mouth and shouted at the shrinking shapes of the shrews traveling upriver. “Uh, wait! Where are me manners. Haven’t even introduced meself. The name is Sieg Seadouse.”
- A gruff shout coming from the young shrew came as a reply. “And I be Log-a-Log, chieftain of the Guosim.”
- Sieg sighed with a smile. He proceeded to paddle to the left river side and moored the boat with rope and stake. “I don’t think ma’am will mind if,‘’Sigh’’, we stop fer today.”
Once the orange furred figure was out of sight, the chief boat the left boat came together. Two shrews jumped aboard the lead vessel, bearing something sleek, long, and made of metal in between them. The young chief greeted them. The young chief greeted them with anticipation.
- “Anything suspicious or interesting?”
- The searchers showed him their burden. A long metal, from pole tip to pole tip, with a sharp and fine blade, poleax. It was made out of great craftsmanship, with an oddly familiar design…
- “We searched with sharp eyes and nimble paws.” The first shrew said. “We saw no fox, but we felt fur in places thin air should be.”
- The second shrew nodded and continued, patting the pole once. “We found ‘’this’’ under what seemed like a cape, fortunately in our reach. How it fit in it is beyond me... nothing more, chief.”
The chief patted their backs as they led the poleax drop unto the floor with a big ‘’thud’’. He proceeded to make a speech. His voice was sure, clear, and loud enough for the whole flotilla to hear.
- “Alright, me lads. Looks like we have ourselves a hiding vermin, an’ a prisoner or traitor to Deal with. But let’s avoid unnecessary loses. Let us observe fer a while. We may not even have to dirty our paws if they leave this country in peace.”
- The crew nodded and produce many shout of “Aye”
- Then he grins. “But of course, if that Dormouse is a prisoner, we can’t overlook him, can we?”
- The shouts of “No” resonate through the trees, yet they are muffled enough to escape the ears of the creatures behind them.
Except for one. A dark feathered head was shaken. It’s owner back-flipped and soared away from the Guosim’s Vessels; with an expression of worry and utter shock, made ghastly by the moonlight beams illuminating his face.
- “Accch… Let’s hope no beast finds us in the morn, or else head shall roll!”
- I got the idea of this fanfic after I read Marlfox; plus discovering a very cool anime, from which the main character is based on.
- The title is a pun! Can someone guess wot the pun is?
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