Chapter Five: A Weapon Fit for A Warrior
Hartshire returned early the next morning, having stopped from exhaustion only a few hours from the mountain. He had slept fitfully after cleaning his wound with damp sand from the shore, and when he woke, had finished his run to Salamandastron. He made his swiftly to Lady Marcella’s chambers, rapping on the door with a tightly clenched paw. “Marm, urgent news, marm. Patrol Runner Hartshire reportin’, marm.”
“Enter!” Boomed Lady Marcella’s strong voice.
Hartshire pushed open the badger lady’s chamber doors, throwing a salute as he stepped in. “Had a run-in with the vermin, marm. Four o’ the blighters attacked me a day an’ a half from th’mountain. Confirmed that they’re the bally pirate vermin, wot. The chap I questioned said ‘is captain is Ragar Hookfang, marm. Gave’em blood an’ vinegar, marm!”
Marcella processed this information slowly, and nodded. “You think they will attack Salamandastron?”
“I jolly well do, marm. There’s ten score o’ vermin aboard the Wavelash, an’ I doubt they dropped anchor on our coast t’enjoy th’scenery.” Hartshire answered, maintaining his solute to the badger lady.
“Two hundred vermin waiting only a few days from our mountain.” Marcella mused, shaking her huge striped head. “There’s only a score or so more hares than that in Salamandastron. Minus the old and the leverets, of course.” The badger sighed and shook her head.
“Hartshire, you are dismissed. Send Colonel Shalepad, Captain Farlo, Sergeant Brumshaw, and the otter, Kurva, to my chambers for a council of war. Then go to the infirmary and get your wound dressed properly.” The badger lady ordered.
Hartshire saluted again and turned on his heel to do as his lady had bid. When he left, Marcella slowly walked to the window of her room, dark eyes peering out over the sandy coasts she ruled.
Kurva had been greatly enjoying his time in Salamandastron. He had already made friends with many of the younger hares, and had even become pals with a few of the tiny leverets. He was courteous to the harewives, respectful of the warriors, and every hare living in the mountain seemed to enjoy the company of the former slave. The wound on the otter’s side was almost completely healed, though he had changed his mind about leaving Salamandastron. Word of the Wavelash landing on the coast had reached him, and he had every intention of staying put in case the vermin attacked.
Presently, Kurva was assisting one of the cooks, a lovely harewife named Shorepetal, prepare afternoon tea. He was bustling about, checking scones at one oven, and then checking on the brewing of mint tea at another. Shorepetal was mixing the batter for another batch of blueberry scones when a tiny hare appeared, sucking his paw.
“Mama, mista ‘Artshire says that Lady Marcel needs t’see Kurva.” He squeaked.
Kurva looked up, glancing from the leveret to Shorepetal. “D’you think ye can get by without my ‘elp, marm?” He asked, smiling roguishly.
Shorepetal chuckled, waving her paw. “Go on an’ run along, ye rip. If’n her Ladyship needs ye, well, I wouldn’t keep her waitin’, wot!”
With a bow, Kurva swept up the leveret, and left the kitchens. He padded into the mess hall, and sent the young hare on his way. The former slave trotted up the stairs at the end of the mess, catching sight of three other hare officers. He recognized one of the older hares as Colonel Shalepad. Kurva caught up with them, and they made their way to the badger lady’s chambers.
“Wot’re we bein’ summoned by her Ladyship for?” He asked quietly, looking at the Colonel.
“Council o’ war, ol’ boy. Lady Marcella wishes t’speak with us about wot we should do about those vermin chaps.” The officer replied as Captain Farlo rapped on the door of the badger’s room.
“Enter, please!” Called Lady Marcella.
The three hares and the otter entered single file, with Kurva at the rear. Sergeant Brumshaw, a grizzled old hare with a bristling mustache, saluted Lady Marcella. “Captain Farlo, Colonel Shalepad, Kurva, an’ me good self reportin’ for duty, Lady.” He said, his tones measured in military fashion.
The badger lady nodded her broad striped head. “As you all know,” She began, “The Wavelash has landed on our fair coasts. The Runner, Hartshire, had a run in with a patrol of the crew, and fought them. He interrogated one that he left conscious, and found that there are ten score vermin in the crew.”
Kurva’s eyes widened very slightly at that. He had always known the crew of the Wavelash was a large one, but being that he had spent most of his days in the galleys, he had never learned the exact number of sea scum that sailed aboard it.
“It appears that we’ll soon have a battle on our paws. I’m not sure when, but we must be prepared for it. Captain Farlo, I want you to rally all slingers and archers, make sure that each archer has a proper bow and quiver, and that the slingers all have stout pebbles.” After addressing Farlo, the badger turned her eyes to Sergeant Brumshaw. “Sergeant, I want you and Corporal Figwold to set about making a list of the younger hares that are fit to fight. And Colonel Shalepad, see to the rest of the weaponry, and ask Shorepetal and her kitchen helpers to make sure we have battle hearty food about for our warriors.”
Each hare nodded, and turned after Marcella dismissed them to go about their duties. Then she turned to Kurva, who was standing patiently, wondering why he had not been given duties to see too.
“Kurva, I want you to come with me. There’s no doubt in my mind that you will stay and do battle with these cursed vermin. If you are to fight, then you will have a weapon fit for a warrior.” She smiled very slightly, and turned to lead the otter to her forge room, the chamber in which all Badger Lords and Ladies crafted their weapons and armor.
Nodding dumbly, Kurva followed Lady Marcella as the badger lumbered out of her personal chamber. She led him down hallways, and a few flights of stairs, and halted when they reached the forge room. Marcella glanced at Kurva before opening the huge wooden door. The badger smiled thinly, stepping into the large, warm room.
The forge room was in fact a huge one, with a fire burning in a pit at it’s center. Mounted on every wall were arrays of weapons and armor. Pikes, lances, quarterstaffs, javelins, and spears hung on one wall, with full suits of battle armor next to them. Another wall was decorated with blades; dirks, claymores, rapiers, fencing sabers, and huge battle blades that only badgers could carry. Long bows and quivers or arrows were on display on a third wall, a long with an array of slings of all lengths.
Kurva stood in awe, staring at the fine weapons that surrounded him. He glanced at Marcella, who was standing off a bit. “Go on. Choose what ever weapon you like. Choose wisely, though, young warrior. Which ever weapon you decide on will have to carry you through your life time.”
The otter was surprised at that. “You mean, wot ever weapon I pick, I can keep? Lady Marcella, that’s too much…” He said, eyes widening at the badger.
“No, it isn’t. A warrior deserves a fine weapon.” She answered. “Now go on.” She motioned for him to continue with a jut of her jaw.
Kurva obeyed then, chewing on his lip. He padded slowly towards the wall where the blades hung. “I need somethin’ that ain’t too heavy…” He mused, lightly running his paw down the flat of a claymore blade. His dark eyes roved over one of the fencing rapiers, and he shook his head. “An’ I don’t need somethin’ too small, like a dagger.” He muttered.
Still chewing his lip absently, he plucked a saber off the wall. He held it carefully in his paws, shook his head, and returned the weapon to its place on the wall. Then, looking up, he saw one particular sword. It was double-edged, with a plainly bound handle and a simple obsidian pommel stone. It certainly didn’t look like a fancy weapon, which Kurva liked.
Lifting it from the wall hooks from which the sword hung, Kurva experimentally swung it. The blade hissed through the air like an angry wasp. Smiling, Kurva looked at Lady Marcella. “I think this’n is the blade for me, marm.” He said.
Marcella nodded. “That blade was forged by my grandsire, old lord Urthpaw. He preferred using plainer weapons himself.” She said. “You’ll need a scabbard for it, and a belt to hang it from.” She stated, lumbering across the room to a set of drawers that rested against the far back wall of the forge room. After rummaging through a few of the cubbies, she returned to Kurva, a belt and sheath in paw.
“The sheath is made from the toughened hide of a shark that washed up on the shores, many seasons back. I was a younger creature then.” She chuckled. “I had my hares save some of his hide, and bury him after.” Lady Marcella handed Kurva the belt and sheath. “The belt is a simple one, broad and simply woven. It’s tough, though, and it’ll last you for many a long season.”
Kurva nodded, accepting the gifts as the badger lady handed them to him. “Thank ye, marm. I’m very grateful.” He said, nearly at a loss for words as he fastened the belt around his waist.
“You are very welcome, Kurva. Now come along. I’m sure it’s nearly supper, and it’ll take us a bit to get to the mess hall.” Lady Marcella said, turning toward the door to lead Kurva back to main halls of Salamandastron.
The otter followed behind her, head held high. The battle was not far off, and he had every intention of doing his new blade justice.