Introduction There was once a school in the Deep South of Malkariss. It was called East Point Military Academy. Its campus was situated on a lake (Lake Tsarmina, it was called, as folklore had it Tsarmina Greeneyes drowned there.) and surrounded on all sides by pine trees. The school itself was a ramshackle three-story building little more than three log cabins stacked one on top of another. But despite its appearance it was a very prestigious school. This was where some animals would enter as ‘dumb country boys who can barely wield sticks’ and leave as the most terrifying monsters known to the animal world. Notable former students include
Ferahgo the Assassin
Klitch, son of the Assassin
Gabool the Wild
Cluny the Scourge
Now East Point itself is little more than a ruin. But step closer, if you dare. Because it is here inside its moldy walls that Lupin, son of Cluny, made his mark as a Warlord and changed the history of East Point forever….
A line of weasels, stoats, ferrets, foxes, rats, raccoons, sables and skunks stood by the lake. They were all teenagers and nearly all of them were male. The high noon sun shown down on their fur. Summer was here and they were still in school when no one else was. A ferret drill sergeant, Claudius Ravage paced the ranks, clutching a thin willow whippingstaff. “A new student is coming today. And all of you had better not pull anything stupid- or else you’ll all trim the crabgrass until the end of summer. Also all horseback-riding privileges will be suspended until fall.” Ravage flexed his cane. “Do I make myself clear?” He barked. “Yes sir.” Most of the animals said. The others were all murmuring nervously to themselves. Ravage grimaced. “I CAN BARELY HEAR YOU RUNTS!” “Yes sir!” This time everyone said it. Ravage sniffed. “That’s more like it.” He strained his eyes towards a rapidly rising cloud of dust in the distance. He shook his head. “Well whaddya know. It’s BloodwrathBrain back from the dead!” The whispering begun anew. Everybeast knew who BloodwrathBrain had been- Cluny the Scourge, so-called because of his inability to control his temper. Cluny had also been such a legend around the school because he’d gotten sent to the principal’s office more times than anyone could count and had also repeatedly gotten whipped for having a smart mouth- because he said things that no other student had ever dreamed of getting away with. And now his son Lupin was coming to the school; perhaps he would resurrect his father’s earthshaking legacy. Everyone watched, eyes on the cloud of dust as it billowed, the rat in the saddle clearly struggling to control his foaming horse. After what seemed like hours Lupin finally reined his horse in, and stepped off, feeling uncomfortable at all the eyes on him. But it was uncanny! Lupin was his father’s double in every possible respect: Glossy black fur, yellow-green eyes, even the same nervous twitching in the tail whenever he gave someone eye contact. Claudius Ravage was grinning broadly as he approached the rat. “Well, well, well. If it isn’t Lupin? The last time I heard about you you were a spoiled little runt. Is that still the case?” Lupin straightened. “Hell no!” “Hell no- sir!” A ferret of about Lupin’s age in the ranks gave the rat a pained look. Lupin shifted on his back paws. Ravage faced Lupin again. “You know my name, runt. Now fall into line!” Without a word Lupin did so. He found himself next to the ferret who’d given him a look. “You must got some nerve. Your old man sure did.” The ferret whispered. “Name’s Finn.” Then Finn added “Hope you survive first term.” Lupin flinched and Finn chuckled. “Not used to blood, eh?” He flicked Lupin across the muzzle none too gently. “Where’s the animal in you? Anyhow, don’t look that way. I’m a second-year. I’m used to this stuff.” “How old are you?” Finn looked casual. “Gonna be eighteen in June. You?” “Seventeen as of May.” Lupin dropped his voice to a whisper and he wasn’t sure why. “Now you better hush up. Old Ravage’s gonna give you, really all a us a lecture. If it’s not too long we go inside. Good luck.” Finn fell silent just as Ravage began to speak. “It has come to my attention that the brat of BloodwrathBrain is here for his first term. You are all to show him respect- and if he beats you at fencing too bad. Nearly all’a you runts out here are first-termers. So you’ll get the same lecture as all you first-termers always do: If any of you woodlanders want to survive my lakefront, you’ll have to follow my rules. I don’t care which teachers you end up with- if you get onto my bad side on a bad day that’s it. You’ll be sitting in the principal’s office and you’ll have to explain that to him. So when you runts are out scrubbing floors or clipping lawns don’t ever blame me for it! When you runts got here, you weren’t anything more ‘n a buncha dumb country boys who could barely wield sticks. By the time I’m done with you, your best friend’ll be whimpering in your shadow!” and with that, Claudius Ravage strode off. It looked like they were dismissed.