Yes my first fanfic!!! I want to dedicate this to Bluestripe the Wild, Silva Squirrelmaiden, and Layla Goldeneyes who've all been very generous and kind to me since I'm new. And to Danthemanb who helped me with my signature.
It was early morning and it was cold, very cold. Frost coated the grass and the trees. The sun was peaking over the mountains which made the land glisten. The only sound was the river, swirling and gurgling as the water tripped over itself. It was a beautiful autumn morning unlike any other.
A squirrel was scaling the trees, jumping from one branch to the other. Skillfully sliding and climbing the bark of the pines of a vast grove. He landed with a soft thud on the frozen ground. Walking to the river he gazed up at the sky, cloudless and pale blue. The squirrel kneeled and took a long drink of the frigid water. It numbed his mouth and cooled his throat. He turned and sat up against a large pine and pondered. Feorag was his name, he wasn’t large but he wasn’t small either. He bore a sling and two knives at his belt, but at his back was the thing that made him stand out. A double ended trident, four prongs on each end, mahogany shaft, gold details, with a crystallized resin grip for traction. He was clad a tunic of red underneath a brown homespun cloak, the garmets of a simple woodlander. Feorag came to this spot every morning; it was the only time of day he could get peace and quiet. He was chief of the tribe that lived in the village of Altabesca. It was a full-time job with very little time in between. He had to repair structures, arrange celebrations, direct warrior training, create battle plans, the list went on and on.
Feorag watched the water rush down over the rocks and logs. He wondered how far the river went, he’d traveled very far but the river was always there. Feorag wondered if it just never ended. He also noticed something odd, the sun was now well over the mountains but there was no birdsong. Feorag’s paw drifted to one of his knives. He’d lived in the woods long enough to know that if there were no birds singing, then something else was around. He scanned the area with his eyes. Nothing. He was looking up at the trees when he noticed the river. The River! It was scarlet with blood. Feorag arose and walked upstream, following the crimson water to its source. He walked for five minutes. Feorag’s almond eyes widened at what he saw. A squirrel like himself, only this squirrel was younger and much larger. He was wearing highlander clothes, a kilt and tunic. Feorag noticed all of this after he looked at the young squirrel’s head. It was the worst injury Feorag had ever seen. The right side of the squirrel’s head was a bloody mess. Fur, blood, and dirt plastered the gash. Feorag looked closer and he could see the skull of the poor squirrel, it was visibly cracked. He moved the squirrel on his back and saw there were many other injuries. His chest was slashed in four places and his right arm stuck out ant an odd angle. Feorag shook his head; it was a shame for a young beast to die like this. But then the squirrel’s whiskers twitched. He was alive! Feorag was astounded; he’d seen badgers die from wounds like the ones this squirrel endured. Quickly, Feorag kneeled by the squirrel’s head, tore a section of his tunic off, and began to chew dock leaves he took out of his haversack. He spat out the leaves into the rag and pressed it against the squirrel’s head. Feorag knew enough of healing and remedies but not to fix anything this severe. This squirrel needed proper attention, he needed Ikru Elm. Ikru was Altabesca’s healer, old gray, but above all, wise. Feorag dragged the squirrel out of the river and onto the bank, as he laid the squirrel on his back, he gasped in agony.
“Aaaaaaaaaaargh”, the squirrel wailed.
“Easy lad, easy” Feorag said as he gently pushed the squirrel’s head back. “What happened to ya?”
The squirrel spoke barely above a whisper “Ah- Ah don’t know”
“It’s awright lad, rest now” said Feorag with soft concern.
“Yes … father” the squirrel uttered painfully. Feorag thought about the last words. He’d never been a father, nor did he want to. If the squirrel lived, he’d be sure to tell him not to call him father. Feorag draped his cloak over the squirrel to keep him warm, then he took off at break-neck speed into the woods, leapt up and grabbed the nearest branch. The squirrel didn’t have much time left, Feorag had to use all of his tree-scaling skills to get to Altabesca. Feorag could climb faster than he could run, and Altabesca was suspended high above the ground. He made it, landing quietly on the nearest platform.
But he was only halfway there; Ikru’s home was on the other side of the village. Feorag hit the floor, running faster than he’d ever run before. A few of Altabesca’s inhabitants were stirring, beginning their daily excursions. Feorag was oblivious to them, running bridges, swinging from trees and jumping platforms, judging the fastest route to the other side. Feorag ran to a dilapidated old shack, the healer’s home. He ran inside, nearly out of breath. Feorag was surprised to see the healer was already awake, sitting cross-legged in front of a fire. Feorag stepped quietly forward, inside his home Ikru had all manner of herbs, and potions in jars on his walls. The floor was lined with rugs, and pillows. The place smelled sickly sweet with herbs and smoke. Before Feorag was even three steps away, the old squirrel knew he was there.
“What d’ya want Feorag” the healer said impatiently.
“I ‘ave to tell ya somethin’”, closing the door, Feorag told the whole story to Ikru. All the while the healer never changed his expression, and never blinked. When Feorag had finished recalling the events, Ikru stroked his chin. The healer got up and began looking at his shelves. Feorag was getting angry, the squirrel down by the river was dying, and the healer seemed oblivious to it. Feorag was about to say something when the healer turned around and spoke.
“I need time to see what herbs I need, Feorag, be patient” the healer said as if he knew what Feorag was thinking. The squirrel picked up a jar of dried white flowers, Feorag recognized it as chamomile. Ikru began mumbling to himself, something about young ones having no regard for the elderly. The healer picked up several more jars, one with some dried bright green leaves, another with some fresh pale green ones, and a jar of brown liquid. None of which Feorag had seen before. Ikru put the jars in a haversack, slung it over his shoulder, and grabbed his walking stick.
“You lead, I’ll follow, quickly we’ve not much time” said the healer with the determination Feorag wanted to see from the beginning. Feorag ran out of the hut with Ikru on his heels. Altabesca was now in full swing, everyone was up and about. All of them unaware that a young squirrel was close to death.
Feorag was surprised at Ikru’s speed; the old squirrel could scale trees almost as skillfully as himself. They landed where the young squirrel lay, Feorag ran to his side, while Ikru walked with his hardwood stick.
“Can’t ya see this squirrel is dyin’, move yerself ya dusty old mouswife”, Feorag yelled in rage. But then he saw that Ikru was having trouble breathing, clutching his chest, the healer knelt down at Feorag’s side.
“I’m not as young as I used to be” gasped Ikru, his voice remaining monotonous.
“I’m sorry Ikru, I didn’t mean them things I said, I was just-“he was cut off by the healer’s sharp reply.
“Shut ya mouth and turn his head this way” said the ancient squirrel. Feorag detected a slight playfulness in his voice, and smiled. He did as Ikru asked and turned the young squirrel’s head toward himself and the healer. The squirrel was still alive, barely. His injuries were just as bad as when Feorag had left, although the bleeding had stopped due to Feorag’s poultice. Ikru began to work, he took out cloth and the herbs he brought. He gave Feorag some leaves that were oddly shaped and dark green.
“It’s Ginkgo, grind it” said Ikru, not looking up from his haversack. Feorag did as he was told, the leaves tasted bitter and sour, he winced as some juices dripped down his throat. Ikru was chewing some other leaves while opening the jar of brown liquid. When Feorag thought they were well ground, he spat the leaves out onto the rag with relief. Ikru did likewise while stirring the dried chamomile into the brown liquid. The healer took the poultice that Feorag had put and replaced it with the one with light green leaves. Feorag’s curiosity got the best of him.
“Wot’s that Ikru?” asked Feorag quizzically.
Again the healer never looked up from his work. “Sage, speeds up the healin’ process”. Ikru continued like a machine, never stopping, moving with no falter. Whatever he was waiting for on the leaves that Feorag had chewed had arrived. Ikru applied the rag to the wounds on his chest, dabbing them gently, letting the juices drip inside. Feorag was intrigued, he was about to ask when Ikru again read his mind.
“Ginkgo gets blood to the head, this squirrel may have suffered serious damage to his brain” said the healer with no sign of sorrow, or sympathy. Ikru set about the squirrel’s arm. The healer faintly touched it and the young squirrel moaned in agony.
“Aah, definitely broken” said the healer, more to himself than Feorag. Ikru took out a slab of pine wood and some sinewy plant fibers. The healer moved the young squirrel’s arm without any regard for the pain it caused. The young squirrel tried to bat at Ikru with his good arm. Feorag pushed the arm to the ground and held it there.
“Ya hurtin’ him, stop!” yelled Feorag, tempted to shove Ikru away.
“If I don’t do this now, he’ll be in a lot more pain later” said Ikru angrily. Ikru had finished, the splint looked well done, and it would stop the young squirrel’s arm moving. “I need ya to lift his head so he’ll drink this” said Ikru, pointing to the jar of brown, chamomile-infused liquid. Feorag did so without a word, propping the young squirrel’s head gently on his knees.
“Come on lad, stay with us” said Feorag, nudging the squirrel slightly. Ikru tasted the liquid with his finger, grunting in acceptance. He tipped the jar into the young squirrel’s open mouth; he sputtered and coughed with agony.
“Bah, he has to drink this” said the healer, looking to Feorag.
“Wot do I do?” asked Feorag, surprised to see the healer staring at him.
“He seems to lissen to ya” said Ikru matter-of-factly.
“Um, alright, uuuuuh” Feorag couldn’t think of something to say. Finally he said “laddie, come on, ya have ta drink this, it’ll help ya, come on.” Ikru tried again, gently pouring it down the young squirrel’s throat. The squirrel swallowed the entire jar with no problems. Ikru looked at Feorag, impressed with what had transpired. But quickly Ikru retained his flat expression; Feorag knew the old squirrel didn’t want to admit that he had done something right.
“We have to get him back to Altabesca” said Ikru, staring down at the injured squirrel. The healer produced a stretcher from his “walking stick”; it was canvas between two long poles, he gave it to Feorag. Together the two adults lifted the young one on the stretcher, Feorag carried the load by himself, with the rest of the stretcher trailing on the ground. Ikru led ahead, Feorag was not looking forward to this, it was half a mile back to Altabesca. Half a mile dragging the huge squirrel behind him. The trip passed by without event and with little conversation, the young squirrel in the stretcher didn’t stir. Feorag was plagued by one question which he asked Ikru after half an hour’s walk.
“Ikru, what was that stuff ya made ‘im drink”, Feorag asked, looking forward to the answer.
“Tea”, Ikru said monotonously.
“Tea!” Feorag repeated in surprise. “all that fuss over tea!”
“Didn’t ya mum ever give ya tea when you were ill?” said Ikru seriously. Feorag looked down at the ground, he didn’t know his mother, and Ikru seemed to remember that for he turned around and the pair no longer talked.
Finally the three of them made it to a large pine with no bark and a stone jammed in the wood. Ikru took the stone out and rapped the tree several times. Altabesca was secret, and it was kept that way. It was high enough off the ground so it couldn’t be seen. There was no official way down except for a rope ladder that could be extended to the ground, although no one ever used it. It was meant for the few travelers that Altabesca knew that could not climb. Several moments passed, when four ropes descended downward. Feorag set the squirrel down gently. Ikru began tying two ropes to the ends near the squirrel’s head, while Feorag tied rope around the remaining ends. The squirrel’s unconscious form was hoisted high into the canopy of trees until out of sight. Feorag shouldered his trident and scaled a pine, Ikru did likewise. Feorag landed silently onto one of the many rope bridges of Altabesca, Ikru landed beside him. Four squirrels were there near the unconscious one on the stretcher lifting him and walking to Ikru’s hut. A crowd gazing in awe at the massive squirrel following them.
“whoa lookit the size of ‘im!”
“I’d ‘ate to be up against ‘im eh?”
“ ‘ow big is ‘e ya reckon”
“Out of my way ya miscreants!” Ikru’s voice could be heard over all others as he shoved squirrels, both young and old out of the way. “Just me, Feorag and the injured is allowed in this here hut, d’ya hear me” Ikru screamed at the now silent crowd. Feorag was impressed with the healer’s sudden burst of anger. Ikru went inside with Feorag following, but before the pair could get inside they were stopped by a very young squirrel named Rimna.
“Ferag, can I see da squirrel, pleeeeeeease?” Rimna asked, her eyes bulging with plea. Feorag smiled and kneeled, putting his paw on Rimna’s shoulder.
“no ya little whelp ya’ll just get in the wa-“ Ikru’s sharp reply was cut short by Feorag’s paw, held up for silence.
“Rimna, does ya mum say it’s alright?” Feorag asked.
“Yes she does mista Ferag” replied Rimna, excitement brewing in her eyes.
“Well then, I see no problem with it, do you Ikru?” Feorag said the last three words with a harsher tone than the others.
“None at all” said Ikru, his eyes alit with anger.
“That’s what I thought” Feorag said. His smile of mischief was followed by a shriek of joy from Rimna who ran inside. Feorag was about to join her when Ikru held him up.
“Control her” Ikru said not blinking.
“Don’t worry yer old bones, she’ll be fine” said Feorag turning to go inside. Ikru rolled his eyes and followed.
The hut had been cleared up and now had a large table in the center, and on that table, lay the injured squirrel. Ikru closed the door behind him, and walked over to the table, shooing Rimna away. Rimna ran over to Feorag, and tugged at his sleeve.
“Wot’s ‘is name mista Ferag?” asked Rimna innocently. Feorag was taken aback; he couldn’t believe he hadn’t figured out the injured squirrel’s name yet.
“I-I don’t know” Feorag said in reply. Feorag walked over to the table with Rimna at his side. Feorag bent over.
“Wot’s ya name lad?” Feorag asked. The squirrel turned his head slightly. Rimna piped up.
“His name’s Septembuh”.
“ Wot?” Feorag asked, surprised to hear the young squirrelmaid speak.
“Wook, it says Septembuh”. Feorag looked closer to where Rimna was pointing, at the squirrel’s sleeve. Feorag was surprised that it actually said it, sewed into the squirrel’s sleeve in red thread was the word September.
“By the fur, you’re right Rimna” Feorag said. Rimna giggled with embarrassment. Ikru came back with more jars from his shelves.
“Get away you two, I swear you’re worse than a pair young frogs.” Said Ikru in frustration.
“Ikru, ‘is name’s September” said Feorag.
“Where d’you tell that.”
“It’s on ‘is sleeve here” said Feorag pointing to where the stitching was.
“So wot?” said Ikru looking at the stitching. Feorag was once again annoyed at the healers indifference.
“We know ‘is name, this is ‘is ‘ome now” said Feorag with sudden realization. Ikru began redressing the injured squirrel’s head.
Feorag spoke in a whisper to the young squirrel, “Welcome, September”.