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Echoes of Hope

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By Sayna


Author's note

Well, to all who voted on this, thank you XD This will be the story of two of the most popular characters of Four Warriors Cometh, Whegg and Regina :)

Yea. I failed with them, two of my favorite characters ever ... :/ So now I'm going to make up for it, hopefully :3 I won't write this very fast, it's a sidestory .. so the updates may be slow.

So yea. Let's see if I can do this! It won't be terribly long, I'm thinking ten chapters at most. ;)



Prologue

In the days when the great Verdauga Greeneyes had an iron paw over Mossflower, and nearly a chokehold on the rest of the known world, hope was scarce.

For the woodlanders yes, but in some cases, even worse for the mighty cat's own followers.

These beasts were forced to bend to his will, whatever it was. They had no choice, no freedom, and no hope.

They could not choose their own paths, only follow the ones chosen for them.

Those who dared try, paid the price.

Some of these creatures thrived on their servitude, but some .. some dared to dream. To hope. Some wanted a better life.

This is a tale of two such creatures, two who had been born into the slavery they existed in. But it was not their choice.

Their path was fraught with trouble and danger, and they did in a way, pay for their hope.

To understand their tale, one must understand their past, their pain, and their dreams.

And so I will tell you their story.



Chapter 1 Imprisoned Ones

Whegg's ears resounded with the clash of metal as his opponent's sabre connected with his spear. The rat leapt back, bringing his weapon against that of the cat he fought, trying not to reel backwards due to the other beast's superior strength.

His mentor, Ashleg's words rang in his head. "Don't be intimidated by size or strength, or a better weapon then yours. Make do with what you have, exploit your strengths and your opponents weaknesses. Don't bite of more then ye can chew, if the creature ye're faced with is better then ye, dance in and out of his reach .. wear him down!"

Whegg intended to do just that, as he leapt out of his enemy's reach once more. The cat went after him, nearly pinning him against a stone wall and ending the fight.

However the rat ducked to one side and tried to dash off underneath his opponent's sword arm. But there was one thing he didn't plan on .. the cat's long, supple tail.

Whegg tripped as his opponent had planned, crashing onto his back and loosing his grip on his spear.

That was it .. he was a goner.

The cat had something like friendly amusement in his green eyes as he thoughtfully tapped Whegg's chest with the flat of his sabre. "I believe you're dead .. again."

Whegg groaned. "Another point fer ya eh?"

Ashleg shook his head from where he sat at the edge of the dueling arena, calling, "It means his highness wins this time .. though luck son."

The pine marten limped over to the two young beasts, surprisingly agile for the fact his right leg was replaced by a patterned piece of wood. "Ye both did well, an ye both had faults. Firstly Whegg, you must use your knowledge of the terrain. Ye knew that wall was there, there was no reason for ye to leap in that direction."

Ashleg turned to the young wildcat, stating, "Gingivere, had that been a real duel against a real enemy, they wouldn't have tried to duck beneath your arm, had they any sense. They'd have simply impaled ye lad. Watch your guard eh?"

Gingivere nodded understandingly, as Ashleg clapped his apprentices on the shoulders. "All in all, well fought. Sire, you're free to go .. lessons are over for today."

><><

Gingivere may have gotten to leave after practice, but Whegg did not. He was Ashleg's apprentice, while Gingivere was Ashleg's squire.

There was a difference. Whegg was Ashleg's constant assistant, he helped with whatever needed to be done. Whether it be shining weapons, waxing bowstrings, washing armor and tack, or cleaning the stables, he did it.

Gingivere was there too train, and do a few odd tasks for Ashleg .. after all, his status was higher even then the general himself.

He was the prince.

Whegg sighed as he followed his mentor. Somebeasts had all the luck. They could do whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted too, and wouldn't get punished for it.

Yes, in Whegg's eyes Gingivere had a perfect life.

He didn't have to work a whole lot, just train, polish a few pieces of armor, and he even had his own horse!

The one Whegg got to curry, brush, and tack whenever the Prince wished to go riding.

Admittedly, Gingivere wasn't overbearing and cruel like his snot of a sister, Princess Tsarmina. But Whegg couldn't help being jealous of the cat. He had a father .. Whegg couldn't remember his.

More then that, his father was the king! Whegg sometimes wished he could switch places with Gingivere .. if only for a day.

What it must be like to be the prince, have nice things, and have someone to wait on you.

But the rat knew he could never be a prince, that was a right for only those of the Greeneyes household.

Of course .. despite what Whegg thought, Gingivere's life was not perfect.

Far from it.

><><

Gingivere left Ashleg and Whegg, slipping through the iron bound oak doors of Kotir. The young wildcat paused in the massive doorway, looking up at the intricate molding above the door with a sigh.

He wished he could stay with the two, not have to go home. Tsarmina constantly picked on him, and his father constantly encouraged him to fight her back.

Gingivere didn't want too. While he enjoyed dueling with Whegg and his mentor, he didn't like to fight his sister. Somehow, he just didn't feel it was the way a family should work.

It wasn't like he had known any different, but he just felt like a family should be there for each other, and actually like each other.

Verdauga did not like the way his children fought, Gingivere could tell by the deep frown that shone in his green eyes whenever he found them doing it. But while he often broke up the arguments, he would scold his son afterward.

Gingivere knew his father was grooming him to be king, something that didn't terribly excite him. The wildcat didn't even really want to rule .. he just didn't know what he wanted.

He'd made his way across the great hall by now, and into one of the hallways. It was here Gingivere stopped in the light of a flickering wall torch, gently resting a paw on an intricate tapestry.

Most of the wall hangings in Kotir did not interest Gingivere terribly, they were simply of his father conquering this, and his father conquering that.

But this one .. this one aroused his curiosity.

It was a depiction of a dark forest on one side, and Kotir on the other. Woodlanders of all types were fleeing into the forest, while the centerpiece was of Verdauga fighting a golden mouse.

Gingivere's green eyes were searching as he murmured, "I wonder who you were .. were you the king before my father?"

The picture did not answer, and Gingivere had not expected it to. He stroked the imaged with a velveted paw, stating, "He killed you, I'm sure. But I think I would liked to have met you .. you are so noble. Kotir must have been a happy place under your rule .. I wish I could have seen it."

He turned away with a sigh. "But you would likely hate me .. I couldn't expect else. Still .. I wish I knew your name."

A nasty, sneering voice rang out from behind him. "Oh the little kitten's talking to the woodlanders again. Get over it .. they're all dead .. you'll never see them."

Gingivere tried to walk off, but Tsarmina jumped in front of him. "They're our slaves, the ones that are left. Like that stupid little squirrel who works in the kitchens with her father! I can't believe you're even my brother .. you're not fit to be called a Greeneyes!"

Gingivere growled. "Leave me alone Tsarmina! I'm not doing anything to you .. why do you have to make fun of me all the time? If you don't like me, why don't you mind your own business?"

His sister sneered at him. "Because you're weak and an idiot. It's fun to pick on you .. daddy's favorite."

Gingivere shoved past her, and she sneered, "Come on, if I get on your nerves, why don't you just fight me? Then we could really see who's the best .. if it isn't obvious."

Her brother flattened his ears to his head, as she laughed, "Whatever coward. But one day, you will fight me! And I'll be ever so happy when you finally do .. you have to have a little Greeneyes blood in you somewhere!"

><><

The lapping of waves made a hollow, almost melancholy sound against the hull of the Bloodwake, Regina had decided. She really couldn't remember any other home than this .. if it really could be called a home.

She was young, perhaps sixteen seasons, and every day of her wretched life had been on this wretched ship.

The little rat maiden leaned against the doorpost of the little, musty cabin she shared with her roommate, a silky gray cat, not much older than Regina herself.

The cat maid's name was Sandingomm, and she'd been bought in Mossflower a few seasons ago, to serve as Ripfang's seer. Regina could still remember the day the rat captain had told her she had to share her quarters with the newly purchased seer.

He'd said it like she lived in some stately cabin, not the dank hole she did. Regina had felt a little resentment, but Ripfang was captain .. and her father.

The rat curled her lip a bit. She hated Ripfang, and she knew he hated her. The only reason she was still around was because her father had hoped Sandingomm would teach her the ways of a seer.

But the cat did not even enjoy using the omens and voices, and was in no hurry to teach it to some one else. Besides .. after seeing the dark look of fear in Sandingomm's eyes every time she had to call upon the immortal powers, Regina was not sure she wanted to learn.

So she had not, and Ripfang hadn't paid that much attention. But now they were nearing Mossflower and Kotir again, Regina was afraid her father might take the opportunity and rid himself of his unwanted daughter.

If only she'd been born a boy .. then Ripfang would have wanted her. But she had the cruel fate of being a maid .. and being hated for it.

Regina looked over at Sandingomm, fixing her hair in the dim light and reflection of a cracked mirror. She and the cat weren't the best of friends, each was mostly concerned with themselves. However, they had fallen upon one another in times of need or confusion.

The rat voiced her thoughts now, asking, "Sandi'gomm, what ya think Capt'n'll do wid me?"

Sandingomm didn't turn around, just stuck a pin in her hair. "Donno Gina."

Regina sighed. "Ah haven't learned da ways of a seer .. he's bound ta wanna git rid a me."

Her cat companion shrugged. "Maybe."

Regina looked away, asking, "Think he'll kill me?"

Sandingomm snorted. "Na .. him? Ol' tightwad? He ain't gonna kill nothin' ner nobody if'n it kin git 'im money livin'."

Regina didn't bother asking what the cat meant .. she knew. The rat just huffed non-comittaly as Sandingomm continued, "Who knows? If'n he sells ya, yer new master might be better'n him. Leastways ye'll get out .. I ain't got dat chance."

The cat smirked suddenly, running an old comb through her black hair. "That is, less I git's meself killed. Den I'd git out."

Regina shrugged, not effected by this grim statement. Still, for some reason, she did not want to be sold. It wasn't that she thought it was below Ripfang to do so, or even found it surprising. But who knew what station she would end up in then?

But it wasn't like she could do a thing about it. She couldn't run away .. there was nowhere to go.

She was imprisoned by the thing she was supposedly serving .. Verdauga Greeneyes' empire.



Chapter 2 Crisscrossed Paths

"Whegg."

The rat mumbled, rolling over in his bed of straw in the stables. "Whegg, wake up would you?"

He blinked his eyes open to see Gingivere watching him. Whegg sat up, mumbling, "It's early ain't it?"

The cat leaned against the doorpost. "Word from one of the outposts came .. Ripfang arrives today."

Whegg raised an eyebrow. "Ol' snag-fang? Him? It's been seasons!"

Gingivere shrugged. "Well he's coming home. Ashleg told me to tell you .. cause you'll probably have to help cart goods from the Moss to Kotir."

Whegg yanked on his old thousand eye tunic, moaning, "The joys of a page .. ugg. Yer lucky ya know .. you get ta be a squire first off."

Ashleg came in the doorway, clapping his paws together. "Good to see ye're up .. get his Lordship's mount ready. And also one for sir Gingivere and her highness, the princess."

Whegg nodded, and Gingivere spoke out quietly. "If I may Ashleg, could I saddle my own horse?"

Ashleg raised and eyebrow. "Your father wouldn't consider that the prince's duty, and I could get in trouble. Best let Whegg do it highness .. besides, your breakfast is ready, I'm sure."

Gingivere cast Whegg an apologetic glance, before nodding to Ashleg and heading across the courtyard. Whegg sighed, heading toward the tack room. Ashleg followed him, stating, "See that you polish the saddles as well."

The rat's ears drooped, but he nodded. "Yes sir."

Ashleg's eyes softened. "Whegg .. a beast isn't born doing great things. How do you expect to do great things if you never learn to do the small ones?"

Whegg lugged Verdauga's heavy saddle down, mumbling, "Will it always be like this .. me doin' everythin' that needs ta be done? Doesn't nobeast think a what I'd like? Course .. I can't expect that."

Ashleg crossed his arms. "You have not proved yourself yet."

Whegg sighed. "I'll never have the chance."

Ashleg glared at him. "You speak as a fool. If you tell yourself that, then no, you'll never have a chance! You can't let this stop you .. how do think I reached the position of General?"

The pine martin grumbled. "All you can think about is yourself .. learn to think about somebeast else once in a while. You won't find it so hard then .. what do you think I did? Your relations with Gingivere are very like mine with Verdauga when we were young. You have a good chance for promotion when he takes the throne. Don't disregard him .. after all .. sometimes even royalty needs a friend."

Ashleg paused, as if he hadn't meant to say that much. He turned away, stating, "Ready the horses, then bring them to me by the door of the Hall, understand?"

><><

Regina didn't have much time to think about what might happen and what might not, because it happened pretty quickly.

The door was shoved open by Lotor, one of her father's most awful seabeasts, and one of the youngest too. He grabbed her arm, sneering, "Yer daddy wants ta see ya."

Regina twisted her arm away. "I'll bet he does .. fine, I'm comin'. Just keep yer paws off me."

She took one last look at Sandingomm, who kept her eyes averted, unable to do anything. Regina curled her lip as Lotor grabbed her again, laughing, "I'll drag ya if I want ta .."

Regina pulled her set of bolas out of her skirt, snarling, "I said keep yer paw off me, Capt'n don't like ya awful much either."

Lotor snickered. "Fine, if'n that's what'cha want, but I don't envy ya, Capt'n's bound ta have somethin' planned fer ya .. dead weight."

Regina spat at his feet, before turning and running up the stairs to the main deck. Ripfang grabbed her next, as she about ran into him. "Oh there ya are, I want ya in me sights see? There'll be no dissaperin'."

Regina shrank back, muttering, "Yea Capt'n."

"Stumptail, moor 'er here. An' bring me that 'orse see?" The first mate nodded quickly, and Regina pitied the horse, whom she knew was named Darkdiamond. But then, he was just as much a slave as the rest of them.

Ripfang glared at her, before sneering, "You'll walk. An' stay were I can see ya."

As she left the Bloodwake not long after, Regina had the feeling she wouldn't be returning. Part of her was glad .. the other part just wondered where she would end up.

><><

TBC~ Happy Halloween from the Sixclaws 21:31, November 3, 2015 (UTC)

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