Book One: Whiptail Badgerslayer

Chapter 1

Zorkaan the Unstoppable was a beast to be reckoned with. He was not the strongest boar, but a master of every weapon known to vermin; he could slice the tip off a whisker, chop the stinger from a wasp, and shoot a shaft through the stem of an acorn. And he always carried his deadly instruments with him; his twin double-bladed battleaxes were fastened to his back with cord, a dagger under his ever-filthy scarf, a crossbow carried in his tusks (Any who made fun of this odd choice soon knew the reason!), and two quivers fastened under his wrists, filled to the brim with orange-tipped arrows, in the shape of his own tusk-laden visage. He was master of the entire northland mountains, with a plentiful army of vermin and the Karwe, his own personal elite guard of boars, wildcats and a Wearet Captain, Ajihad, a hideous hybrid of weasel and ferret. His eternal fortress, Sovlergash, was maintained by seven score of slaves which consisted of mice, otters, voles, moles, shrews, squirrels, and even a few robins, sparrows, and hawks.

Long ago, this place had been ruled by a stoat named Badrang the Tyrant, but that was the past. Now this place was his and his alone!

Zorkaan was a Taggerung, a chosenbeast who was superior to all in the art of combat. He had been found as a young hog by a Juska clan and raised to serve them. But Zorkaan had no need for clans! He slaughtered every one of the grown warriors, and the babes became his first followers. Over the seasons his army grew at an unprecedented rate, and began work on his great fortress. Sovlergash was built into the side of the mountains, its iron doors jutting out over the coast below.

Zorkaan sat on his throne, munching away on the wing meat of a sparrow slave that had died of exhaustion the day before. A weasel named Crossclaw stood eternally by his side, his first disciple and eventual successor. Long ago this caused great outrage in the ranks of the Karwe boars. But Zorkaan was loyal to nobeast, not even his own race; only himself.

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