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Altira: The Marlfox's Revenge

From the haunts of the island one will rise,

Furious warrior with the stars in her eyes.

Find the one who waits beside the sable path of old,

Waiting for the one who will avenge the past untold.

Look upon the treasure with eyes anew,

Find the dark one and her promise to you.

Story by story, day by day,

Only time will tell whose tale to portray.

An enemy you thought vanquished arises from the dark.

Black as night, starry light, the vixen makes her mark.


The sun set on the island of the Marlfoxes. The castle, once so proud and stately, lay in ruins, a pile of stones and timber. The guards and soldiers lay somewhere under the rubble, slain. The High King Mokkan, also, was dead. The only living creatures left were the shoals of pike in the water.

Or were they?

Small mewing noises suddenly erupted from a pile of debris near the water's edge, faint but insistent. A tiny, dark paw pushed itself from the wood beams and rocks. The paw was followed by a head, then another paw, until a little black fox cub lay exhausted on the heap.

The fox slept until nightfall, then, roused by the growling of her own stomach, she crawled away from the pile. She lifted her small sable-furred face to the heavens and sniffed. Then she scrambled toward the lake as fast as she could.

The tiny creature plunged her face into the water, drinking as fast as she could. Suddenly, a young pike leapt from the depths, intent on devouring the black fox.

The young vixen jumped back with a cry of alarm, then rushed forward. Sinking her claws and teeth into the fish's scales, she held on for dear life as the creature bucked and leaped. Finally, she managed to drive the pike into the shallows, then flipped it onto the bank. She shook the fish wildly until it lay still.

Th black fox threw back her head and howled a victory to the starlit sky.


Abbess Song sighed, resting her head against the table. She couldn't get the dream out of her mind. What did it mean? A small paw touched her shoulder. "Abbess?" Song swiftly turned. "Oh, it's you, Skyrose," she said, relieved.

The slender squirrelmaid looked concerned. "Are you alright, Abbess Song?"

"Yes, thank you, Skyrose, I'm fine. Just-just a dream."

Skyrose nodded. "Martin the Warrior?"

Abbess Song shook her head. "Suprisingly, no!"

Pounding paws interrupted any further conversation. A small, golden-furred squirrelmaid dashed into the room, flinging herself at Skyrose. She was followed by several young children, or Dibbuns, all shouting and laughing. The Abbess grabbed the nearest one, a mouse named Mibbie.

"Here now, what's all this?" The tiny mousemaid squirmed, trying to get loose. "Nuffing, Abbess. We jus' pwayin".

The Abbess turned to Skyrose, who was holding the young squirrel's paw, trying to comfort her. Tears ran down her golden face,and her eyes were wide with fright. "Summerdawn, what happened?" the Abbess asked kindly, letting Mibbie go and kneeling in front of the squirrelmaid.

Summerdawn stared at the Abbess. Her golden chest heaved as she tried hard to catch her breath. Skyrose took over. "I think the Dibbuns were teasing her again," the slender young squirrelmaid said, trying to keep the note of anger from her voice.

The Abbess sighed, shaking her head. She turned to the crowd of Dibbuns. "Please, do not let me catch you tormenting Summerdawn again," she said sternly. "If you do, it will be extra baths for all of you!"

The crowd of young ones gasped. "BAFFS!" Mibbie shrieked. Instantly, all the Dibbuns vanished.

The Abbess turned back to the squirrelmaids. She could still recall the day Skipper had borne them to the Abbey as babies from a burned-out hut in the woods. There had been no sign of any parents.

Skyrose had been so named because of the coronet of blue silk roses she always wore, while Summerdawn had been named because of her glossy golden fur. Apparently, the two were twins. But while Skyrose was an avid talker, Summerdawn had never said a word.

Abbess Song returned to the present. Skyrose was patting Summer's shoulder. The golden squirrelmaid had settled down some, but she was still obviously frightened.

Skyrose sighed. "Those Dibbuns love teasing her," she said. The Abbess nodded. "She is such a kind, helpful soul, I wonder why they derive any pleasure from it." A small smile flickered around Summerdawn's lips at the praise.


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