Book One: Enter Erriz
Surely no one would think that Erriz was a warlord. He was short, wore plain clothing, he was actually quite gentle-spoken. Some might say that such a warlord does not exist, well, they are mistaken...
It was a fine autumn morn. The surrounding trees were abundant with loads of all kinds, red berries, glossy chesnuts. But all of this was lost upon the platoon of soldiers. They all wore chainmail and deep grey tunics. Soldiers!
"Was it not entertaining? To see those squirrel's attempts to escape, gave Gurk quite a run!" Traduk, a rather short ermine spoke
"Aye" replied one of the other ermine, a fat one named Luzk.
"What do you think his Lordship will do with the bush-tailed couple" Traduk questioned
"Don't wish to know." mumbled Lusk "Whatever his Lordship thinks of, his methods are most... ...encouraging"
"Well lets go off to camp" Traduk spoke. "Our report is overdue..."
"So it is"
The camp was very orderly one. It was situated deep in the north part of Mossflower Woods, where conifers dominated. His Lordship Erriz sat from one of the lower boughs of a mighty cedar. He stared into the sky.
"Why do you think that autumn comes after summer?" he asked one of his guards
"I know not," replied one of the ermine "perhaps tis one of life's ordinances"
"Perhaps" mused Erriz
His thoughts were suddenly cut short due to a loud scuffle behind the ring of trees surrounding them. Erriz waved his hand to one of the guards. Without a word, the guard went outside the ring and retrieved the participents of the brawl. It was a squirrel and one of his own soldiers. Even though the squirrel was shackled, he gave a severe punishment to his opponent.
"We caught a squirrel trying to sneak into our camp. His reason was quite unknown." mumbled his soldier stupidly
"Oh I see..." smiled Erriz, this was a sure sign that Erriz had something dark in mind "You obviously forgot that prisoners were not to be taken."
"Sorry, your Lordship..."
"No apologies dear friend, it was an innocent mistake..." Erriz patted the soldier's paw
"Really?!" the soldier explained
"No, my friend." the Ermine Lord smiled kindheartedly, "Your blunder will cost two lives. Your own and the squirrel's..."
"NO!! I beg you your Lordship... ...please!" the ermine tearfully sobbed
"Don't worry," Erriz sat back down on the bough,"It probably won't be as bad as you think..."
Throughout this entire time the squirrel kept a silent frosty glare at Erriz. When Erriz placed his attention on the squirrel he spoke:"YOu really shouldn't do that to your face, it might stay like that..."
Watching this specticale were Traduk and Luzk, both of them in complete shock. Thus was the rule of Erriz the Cunning.
The seas discharged their salty perfume upon the slopes of a great mountian, Salamandastron. Spearlady Gorse stoked the fire on the forge. She was called a rough beauty, rough in appearance and manners that is. But no matter what, her hares were loyal to her to the hilt. Gorse looked outside to see massive towers of navy-colored clouds heading from the sea. A knock came through the forge door.
It was Tessa. She was a sand-colored beauty, but not in the typical sense of the word. She was not one of those fluttery-eyed hares that flirted with the soldiers of the mountian. Her full name was Tessawinda but no-one called her that unless they had a loose tooth.
"Ma'am, Tulland my brother has returned to the mountian" she said in plainly
"Why then, hasn't he reported personally?" the Badgerlady said quizzically. Tessa laughed, "You know Tulland, wouldn't miss a dinner for a golden crown and throne." Gorse laughed, "I've never known a Medick who's not hungry"
Suddenly a loud thunder-boom broke the laughter. Tessa commented,"Never seen such a mighty thunderstorm approach!" Gorse sat herself down, "I might have, on the night of the Battle of the Moss."
"Battle of the Moss? My pater or mater may have had some part in that partucular foray..."
"Aye, your mother was part of our ambush group while your father headed the aquatic assualt." The Badgerlady began to tell the tale:
"The Army of Erriz was smashing through all of our defences on the South Point. We were possibly the closest to being destroyed that any army led from Salamandastron. We finally decided that we would catch the filthy ermine and his ilk at the mouth of River Moss."
"The army never went for the bait," the Badgerlady growled, "That Erriz is sharper than a burning spike of iron, They attacked us from behind. Under the cover of the thunderstorm, he managed to kill half of our army before we had a chance to react. Even though he had won that battle, his losses were insane,"
"As were ours" murmured Tessa. Gorse looked at the young hare, " You already probably know that your father and mother were killed by his vermin"
"Well, youngster, don't dwell deeply on these thoughts," Gorse comforted the hare, "There will be a time when your parents will be avenged. Everything has a proper time in life."
"I think your brother has finished his massacre of the good cook's food." Gorse spoke and smiled. The hare grinned as she went away. The Badgerlady pondered her own words," There will be a time, Erriz, there will be a time..."
Meanwhile the storm blew outside with ever-growing feriocity...
The Tribe of Vreel the Warrior was always the head of the 6 Clans. These 6 clans were of mice and other good woodlanders joined at Saint Ninian's Church. These woodlanders were always ready for a scrape in the woods. After several years of experience, young Vreel and his warriors were perhaps one of the greatest fighting crews in the land. But tonight would be different!
There was a massive feast prepared to honer the coming of autumn. The Church had a massive array of candles inside and outside. The sky was a deep royal blue. While the mothers and children danced and sung, the warriors watched the ominous woodlands for any signs of vermin. When I say the warriors, I also meant to include Lea. She was Vreel's daughter and she was steel! Many of the mice-at-arms thought her uncapable of a fight and as daddy's little girl. How they were proven wrong. Lea was Vreel's most trusted consultant when it came to just about anything.
"All the food is inside, Lea, perhaps you should join them..." Vreel suggested.
The warrior maiden laughed, "You've been saying that all day. You know very well that I am not going to slack off on guard duty!"
All of the sudden, Vreel fell silent, "Look," he spoke, "Do you see that storm coming up on the horizon. That will cause a right bit of trouble for our little party."
Vreel's statement was as accurate as a squirrel archer's arrow. Soon, all of the out-door candles were thoroughly doused and the infants danced in the rain. Lea smiled as she watched the antics of Dealli, a young mousemaid. Dealli was doing a hopskip-cum-waltz around her mother as she was attacked with a towel.
"Going to get a death o' a cold jumping about in that like!" pronounced Gea, her mother.
Lea smiled, then Vreel silently tapped on her shoulder, "Listen close..." In the distance, Lea could here footstep here and there. She looked at her father:
"That doesn't sound like rain to me..."
Vreel nodded. He silently walked up to Gea, "Get the infants inside..."
Gea's face got really serious."Come children, follow me..." All of the children quickly filed in line, they were raised in such a way. Stalling could result in death.
With all of the children safely inside, Vreel assembled his warriors. A mouse in the far right flank nodded. Vreel looked to his left and saw a hedgehog gripping a iron-studded club; he nodded also.
"FORWARD ALL!!!" Vreel yelled. Quickly every warrior charged in the foliage catching several ermine off guard. A hedgehog plowed into one of them and quickly downed two others with a quick swipe of his club. Lea quickly swiped down an ermine with her sword. As she saw the blood mix with the water, she trembled. Though quickly she put herself back together. She thought: For too long have these scum been preventing from those poor Dubbins from quietly resting in their beds. I fight for them!
Before too long, the ermine were killed. Vreel managed to capture the leader of the party. He tried to make him speak:
"Alright then scum, may I ask why you were sneaking around these parts?"
The ermine sneered, "You might..."
Vreel got annoyed,"Listen vermin, I don't want to waste my blade on you but I will if I must"
The ermine smiled,, "Listen mouse... ...I can do that myself!" With no warning, he grabbed Vreel's sword by the crosshairs and jerked it into himself.
Vreel froze in shock, "That twisted vermin killed himself!!!"
Everyone stared at the ermine's broken body, self-impaled on Vreel's bright sword. Lea looked back to the church, disgusted. Then she noticed something: "It was just a scouting party! Look at the tunics, they're all uniform!"
Vreel frowned, "Creedo, send for the mothers and children to be sent to Brockhall. The rest of you, lets follow these tracks!"
The storm blew itself out by morning, but an ominous mist settled on the Western Coast. Salamandastron gleamed from the last night's rain as Tessa walked out to take her morning jog. She was going along at a very quick pace along the shore until she spotted a body floating amoung the low tide. As she came closer she recognized it was a hare. She quickly lifted the hare and saw that he was still breathing. The hare mumbled," I need ta see... ...Spearlady Gorse..."
Tessa quickly composed herself, "Right then, to Spearlady Gorse I will take you!" With that, she slung the body over her shoulders. She nearly sunk in the sand on her first step, "Eat much don't ya!"
Gorse was having her lunch when Tessa burst in panting, "I found a hare on my morning jog. He's from the mountian by the looks of it. He said he needed to see you immediately!"
Gorse didn't waste any time, "Where is he now!?"
"In the cupboard close to the kitchens!"
The hare was sitting, barely consious, on a sack of flour. When Gorse entered in, she recognized him immediately.
Tessa was slightly surprised, How could Gorse know him but few of the others did. Her thoughts were inturrepted by Gorse's interrogation:
"Did you find Erriz's new location?"
"Quite... ...I have been searching for nigh 6 seasons. His trail-covering is skilled beyond anybeast's"
Gorse slightly frowned," You look awful! What happened to you?"
"Erriz's ermine knocked me near dead. When they thought that I was, they tossed me down River Moss... ...let's just say thunderstorms aren't really smooth on the Moss."
Saying that, Togllin fell fast asleep. Gorse frowned, "Togllin discovered Erriz's camp 6 seasons later then I would wish." Tessa knew what would happen next."
"Tessa, tell the captains to rally and organize the troops," Gorse quickly ordered, "Erriz's camp is along the River Moss. It is likely he won't stay in that place but we can make sure to find him and make him pay for all the grief he has given."
Tessa quickly followed her demands, but before she left, she noticed Spearlady Gorse stare into the embers of the forge.
"You doom will be swift, Erriz. And you will suffer ten-fold that of Kerrin!"