Chapter Three: The Report

Breathing steadily, Dewberry ran along the sandy coasts of Salamandastron. She was a Runner returning to the fortress after a four-day patrol. Up ahead, standing at ease in the shallows, was the hare that was to relieve her. Dewberry slowed to a halt before the tall male.

“I need t’report to her Ladyship right away, wot. Vermin tracks, loads of’em, spotted along the coast about two days from the mountain. They look like pirates t’me, wot.” She said.

The male hare, an older Runner named Hartshire, nodded. “Alright. Go on an’ make y’report to Lady Marcella. I’ll sweep down that way an’ see wot the vermin are up to.” Without further ado, Hartshire shot off like an arrow, leaving Dewberry to make her report to the badger lady.

Dewberry walked swiftly, entering Salamandastron and only stopping on her way to Lady Marcella’s chambers to utter quick greetings to the hares that addressed her. When she reached the badgers chambers, she rapped on the door. “Patrol Runner Dewberry reportin’, marm!” She called.

After a moment, Marcella’s voice boomed out. “Enter and make your report, miss.”

Mentally going over her report speech, Dewberry entered the large room. She saluted the badger lady, standing at attention. “Vermin tracks were spotted about a two day run from our mountain, wot. It looked like a large number o’ the blighters, too. My guess is that they’re pirates on a coast raid.” She finished her report with another salute, her long ears standing straight up like ramrods.

“Or they’re fixing any damages made to their ship.” Marcella added. She sighed and rose from her armchair. “Who was the hare that relieved you?”

“Hartshire, marm.” Dewberry answered.

“Ah.” The badger nodded. “Tell me, how old are you, Dewberry?”

“Sixteen seasons, marm. Er… Why, marm, if I may be s’bold as t’ask…?”

Marcella chuckled, placing her paws on her hips. “D’you think you’re ready to join the Long Patrol?”

Dewberry’s ears fell flat in her shock. “The bally ol’ Patrol, marm? Really?”

Marcella nodded. “Aye. I’d say you’re old enough to pick up arms and join up with the Patrol. Why don’t you go find Colonel Shalepad and tell him to take you to my forge room? You may have any weapon there that you think suits your skills.”

Dewberry smiled widely. “Thank you, m’lady.” She said, throwing another salute.

“You’re dismissed.” The badger lady chuckled with a wave of her paw. She smiled lightly as Dewberry left, then sighed and looked toward the window. “If these pirates are who I think they are, and they come this way, Kurva may just get his wish.” She murmured, shaking her large striped head. She seated herself in her armchair once again, gazing out of her chamber window at the calmly rolling sea below.

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