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King Ungatt Trunn

This story is about the two greatest villains and a few other great heroes overlooked. Enjoy.

Ungatt Trunn was awake before he opened his eyes. He took in scents and sounds. There was the calming smell of smoke from a driftwood fire; he could hear it crackling. He also heard the sizzling of some meat being roast over the fire. Then he heard somebeast humming; it was a gruff, old voice. It sounded like an old war chant the beast he assumed was male was humming, like from the Fire Mountain, the place he had occupied for a short time and then it was taken back by its rightful owner, Lord Brocktree. He sighed deeply. There was no point going back there; the mountain was lost. He instead thought about the two traitors who had abandoned him, one of whom even tried to kill him.

Groddil and Fragorl, he thought hatefully, I'll get you two one day!

He then opened his eyes. At first all he could see was the gray cavern cieling. He slowly began noticing things, the glow of the fire, the warm blankets draped about him, the agonising pain in his back. Then the somebeast humming stopped. A head of an old battle-scarred hare appeared over him. The hare had a gray eye patch over his left eye.

"So, your awake, Trunn," the old, gruff hare said smugly, "You've been out for nearly two days. I myself was beginning to doubt that you were alive."

Ungatt tried to speak, but a stinging pain caught up with his throat and he coughed up blood.

"Hey-oh, easy now, old thing. Your spine isn't nearly healed, and so you won't be able to do much of anythin' until 'tis."

Then everything that happenned in recent memories flowed back through his head. His battle with Brocktree, the ship Bloodwake on the horizon, many carcasses of his Blue Horde in the waves as well as his captain, Karangool, the thought that it was over, he was going to drown...

And this... hare, one obviously from the Fire Mountain, had saved his life. He eventually found his voice, but only just. "You," he choked, "I stole your home, tortured your friends, brought about the death of your king, Stonefoot..."
The hare shook his old, grisled head. "Trunn, you are a true conqueror. The death of Stonepaw was a tragedy, but it was inevitable. He was very old, older than myself. I kept myself fit, and I am striving to not let my age keep up with me. I did not feel good under Brocktree, and voiced my opinions thus. Lost my eye fighting my way out. I came to find you... knowing you would never die."
"What do you call yourself, hare?" Ungatt asked hoarsely.
The old scarred hare saluted with a bare arm rippling with muscles. "Sir Stiffener Medick at your service, old chap."
The wildcat closed his eyes and nodded feebly. He tried to go back to sleep as Stiffener Medick went back to tend the fire, but something was moving at his footpaws, tickling him and keeping him awake. He grunted to the old hare, who just shook his head and laughed. An extremely fat little baby stoat that looked know more than a few days old climbed up his leg and onto his aching chest.
"Whutwho?" Ungatt gasped.
"Ah, pay him none of your attention, kind sir," Stiffener chuckled, "this little tike I found yesterday. His mother was one of your blue ones, and she'd been mortally wounded. She grasped my paw with her devilishly cold, blue paws and asked me to take care of her son. It wasn't until after she died a few moments later that I found the babe, wrapped in a little silk shawl about the maid's waist. I had to take something of her's to give to the lad when he got older, so I took the silk shawl, and also a silver medallion around her neck with nought on it but a image of a funny little boot. Can't imagine why she had something so queer, but I felt as if her son should have it. She never told me a name, so I just call him Tramun."

Stiffener Medick took care of Ungatt Trunn. He fed him and gave him drink, and let him heal and rest for nearly two seasons. The baby stoat Tramun grew bigger as Ungatt healed. And once his spine was completely intact, he was able to move and walk and even go on morning jogs and exercise practices with Stiffener. After the third season living with hare, Ungatt had a nostalgic dream.
He was in his old home, where he grew up, the Northern Highlands. He was just a five-season-old kit. He was battle training with a silver and black tortoise-shell she-cat, his cousin, Triaud. Ungatt was holding a tall wooden trident and Triaud had two smaller single-handed tridents, both wooden as well.
“You cannot win, Ungatt,” said Triaud through gritted teeth, in between a slash. She stepped back and wiped her brow of the perspiration collecting. She lunged back in. “I’m three seasons older than you. You cannot win!”
“Just try and win, Triaud,” spat Ungatt, “No sissy she-cat cousin of mine can defeat me!” He jumped at her with his trident, but she parried roughly, sending him up against the wall, his weapon clattering on the floor. A much smaller, orange tabby cat trundled in on stubby paws, and picked up Ungatt’s trident and handed it to him.
“Thanks, Verdy,” Ungatt mumbled to his younger brother, while a smile appeared on Triaud’s silver face.
“Hah!” she exclaimed, throwing her weapons on the ground, which were quickly retrieved by baby Verdauga. “Sissy she-cat, am I? I win again! You can’t beat me, Ungatt, face it.” She continued ranting as her father Prince Gemspear, Ungatt’s uncle, stepped into the circle.
“Well done, my daughter,” laughed Gemspear, slowly clapping his hands, “You’ve never let me down. Just because my older brother became king of this land, does not mean you cannot take it once he dies.”
“Gem!” King Mortspear walked in. He had yellowy-orange fur, large fluffy eyebrows and a beard that nearly reached his footpaws. “Gemspear Trunn, my ignorant younger brother, you cannot say such things to my son!” Gemspear looked down at his paws and shrugged. “No matter who is a better fighter, or who is older, you know that since I am king, my son shall be crowned such after me. It will be so by royal decree. Once I die, no matter what age, Ungatt will be king. If he dies sonless, than his brother, Verdauga will take the crown. And if Verdauga died sonless, then and only then would the crown be passed on to your family.” Mortspear smiled at his two sons; Verdauga smiling back with his chubby cheeks and Ungatt looking to the ground, tears dripping to the stone floor. "Come, my sons," Morstpear beckoned to them and they walked away. Ungatt looked back and snarled at his cousin with his two long fangs, at which Triaud hissed and turned back to her father. The image faded.

Ungatt was now just over twenty seasons old, in his dream. He was speaking with Mortspear.
"Father, I must leave," he was saying, "These stone walls and mountain towers rising above me have made me sick, I cannot go on living here anymore.”
"My son, you cannot leave!" Mortspear cried, "What were to happen if I died while you were away?"
"I'm sure Verdauga will make a great king," Ungatt said, smiling. "How would you like to be king, Verdy?"
Verdauga's jaw dropped. "Really? You mean... you don't want the crown, brother?”
“No, I’m afraid not. But father, I promise I will find a safe place to stay. I will create a kingdom of my own, and when the time comes, I will join it with this one, and Verdauga and I will be Joint Kings!”
Mortspear sighed, but before he could respond, the image faded, and another one appeared.

It was the king again, but now his beard was pure white, and his once-lustrous fur had paled and lengthened. He was lying, sickly, in his bed.

“Verdauga,” he rasped, “Where are you, my son?”
The orange cat entered with a beautiful golden she-cat. “Father,” Verdauga said, “I am leaving. Tsarmina and I do not want our kits growing up in the kingdom. We are to venture out, and find lands free of monarchy and ancient laws... we are leaving, and traveling south.”
“NO!” the old king yelled scratchily. “I cannot lose you like I lost your brother, whom I haven’t seen for over a score of seasons... Please, Verdauga, Verdy, my son, you and your wife Tsarmina can live here and prosper! You can eat and drink like kings, your kits would become princes and princesses! Who would be king if I died?”
Verdauga sighed. “I’m sorry, father, I’ve made up my mind.”
In his sleep, tears welled up in Ungatt’s eyes.
After Verdauga left, another cat walked in, a cat with dark brown fur streaked with silver from old age. “My brother,” said prince Gemspear.
“Gem, come hither.”
Gemspear looked smugly out the window. “And thus leaves your other son.”
Mortspear tried to sit up. “My son will come back... Ungatt will come back and be king!”
Gemspear shook his head. “Will he, now? Then who will rule this land in his stead while we wait?”
Mortspear’s eyebrow’s narrowed. “What do you...?”
“My daughter, Triaud Dire, will make a fine queen, do you not agree?” he interrupted.
Mortspear’s eyes were wide open, but still hidden under his bushy eyebrows. “No!” he spat. “I am king!!!”
“Oh, tut-tut, brother,” Gem sighed sarcastically, walking towards Mortspear’s bed. “I’m afraid your time is up.”
“NO!!!” Gemspear grabbed two silver hand-held daggers from inside his robes. “Goodbye, Mortspear, my brother, King of the Northern Highlands.” He thrust downward, and the image faded. Ungatt sprung out of bed. It was pitch black outside, and he ran out on the beach. His heart was racing, and sweat was dripping off of his forehead. The memories of his horrific dream were running through his head. He got down on four paws and ripped angrily through the sand, yelling and grunting angrily.
“I will avenge you, father!” he yelled through gritted teeth. He looked down at his paws, cut and bleeding, and collapsed on the beach, his body convulsing with grief, for his father, for his brother, for his father’s kingdom. He rolled over, and cut his ankle on something sharp. He cursed and pulled it out of the sand. It was one the two severed pieces of his trident, broken in battle with the badger lord Brocktree. He gasped and picked the half up, frantically searching for the other piece, which he found not far in the sand, and brought them back to the cave.

The next morning, he brought the broken pieces to Stiffener.
“Your king at the Fire Mountain was a master at the forge.” He placed the two severed pieces into the old hare’s paws. “Know you anything of blacksmithing?” Stiffener stood up from his breakfast and examined the trident. It was carved wooden but covered in a shell of a bronze/steel alloy.
“This is a magnificent weapon, Trunn,” Stiffener muttered. “It is a shame it is broken. The most I can do for it is mend the metal, but the wood will stay broken without the proper tools for fixing. It will not take long, if you would be so kind as to start up the fire.”

The cave was full of smoke as Stiffener worked, so Ungatt and Tramun sat outside. The Wildcat muttered to himself about his dream, about his hate for his uncle and such as the baby stoat Tramun built a sandcastle on his back.

"What vile beast would slay his own brother," he was muttering, "Gemspear, if I was there you'd be a deadbeast! Oh, Verdy, why did you leave?" Then a thought struck him. "This is all my fault!! I wasn't there to save him, to take the crown... I should never have left! I wish I had gone back..." And then an even more important thought struck him. "What if it is not to late?" He leapt to his feet and picked up a sand-covered Tramun. "What if it's not too late to go back and claim the crown for my own? Do you realize what this means, Tramun?! I will go north and..."

"Finished your fork, Trunn," came the voice of Stiffener Medick, and the old hare emerged from the cave with wisps of smoke about him, holding the mended Trident on a large cloth. Ungatt stepped forward and took it.

"Stif, it's, beautiful," he murmured, running a claw over the roughly welded metal. He raised it up to the light with one paw and tested its balance. "You are truly a talented craftsman, Stiffener Medick. For this I name you Forgemaster." He brandished his new weapon, and pointed the three lethal prongs to the north. "I take this weapon with a vow... I vow that I will travel to the north, and I will not rest until this weapon peirces the flesh of Gemspear of the Northern Highlands!!!! Stiffener, pack me a bag. I will leave tomorrow at dawn!!!"

The winds were picking up again. Stormclouds crouching ominously in the distance promised a storm later on. The beautiful silver and black tabby looked with two stunning violet eyes from the highest tower in her castle. She could ignore the omens no longer, something was coming. Something big, that may bring about the end of her reign...

"Ungatt is coming," she whispered. Her eyes narrowed, and she spat at the clouds, "Let him come!"

The Fierce Queen Triaud Dire exited to her personal quarters, a long purple cape trailing behind her.

Ungatt was coming.

In the morning while it was till dark, Stiffener Medick had packed a large pack for his wildcat friend. When Ungatt emerged, he ate a quick breakfast and some tea with bitter herbs that helped subside his hunger while traveling. By the time he was ready to depart, the sun was not yet starting to rise. Ungatt clasped hands with Stiffener.

"I will never forget all you've done for me, Forgemaster," the wildcat said sadly. "You've done so much... and I cannot thank you enough."

The old hare was trying not to tear up. "You're a true leader, Trunn. Go and do what you must, and never forget me. One day, when you are king of an enormous land and sitting content on your golden chair, remember me, and send someone to find me! My body has not realised my brain's age yet; this hare will last a bit longer, I think. "I am so proud of you. And tell me, my friend, while you are on your quest, I must assist you. What can I do to aid you while you're gone?"

Ungatt thought a moment, than came up with an answer. "Go east. Find a wildcat name Verdauga. He is my brother, and I will need his help. Tell him Ungatt sent you, and that he needs help to take the crown of the Northern Highlands and avenge Mortspear. This is what you can do! And, Stiffener, say good-bye to young Tramun for me. I did not want to wake him."

The old har adjusted his gray eyepatch, seeming unsettled about something. "Oh, erm, yessurr, will do... er, goodbye, old friend!"

And so Ungatt Trunn traveled North, and Stiffener Medick Forgemaster moved east.

The Tribe of Water Rats in Mossflower (TOWRIM) were feared by all around them. Few opposed them, and those that thought they could were brutally defeated in battle. They were led by a giant of their kind, a big black rat called Havloq Gloomer. He could rip any beast to shreds, including his older brother, whom he slew to become chief of TOWRIM. He was a great leader, ruling in the tribes prime. They grew in numbers every week, and their forces were unstoppable. Today a few water rats had caught a fox stealing from their supplies, and he was brought before Havloq.

The giant water rat stared down at the fox.

"What es your name, fox?" he said loudly.

"Er, Ferind, sir."

"Spek up, now, I cannot hear!"

"Er, Leck Ferind, sir?"

"My men caught ye stealing food, Lex Ferrun. What have ye to say?"

"Oy, please don' eat me, sir! I was jus' a poor, hun'ry trav'ler with nothin' to eat! Please hav mercy, kind, kind, sir, my lord, your kingship!"

Havloq Gloomer threw back his head and laughed. "Wah hah hah haaaiii, this beast ish innocent. Giv hem some rations and send hem out of here. We've done enough killing."

The fox bowed and kissed Havloq's feet, at which he kicked him off, sending him flying. "Tell you what, Ferrund. There is a massive structure to the north of my land, a place made of sandstone, I believe. Know you et?"

"Er, yuss, er, aye aye captain sir, I know the place."

"I wunt that giant cassel for my own. Gow north, now, and tell the ruler of thet giant place that Havloq Gloomer es coming, and that he will surrander immediately, or else he weill die. Do you understand?"

"Er, yes, your hightyness, I unnerstand an'll do as ye say sir!"

"Good. Now get out of my sight!" he finished with a roar. He sat back and smiled. Things were going good for the TOWRIM. He was soon to be Chief of a giant castle.

Ungatt had been walking for the whole day now, and, as it was getting dark, he decided to make camp for the night. He set down his heavy pack and undid the tent tied on top. Once it was set up, he picked up a heavy, warm object wrapped in something silk. He accidently dropped it when it made a noise.

Young Tramun stood up and threw off his mother's silk shawl and grinned at Ungatt Trunn.

"Hullo," he said.

The wildcat was nearly speechless. "Wh-wh-why? What? Tramun?! What are you doing here?!!"

"Unky Stiff tuld me ta coom wif you," the young stoat explained. "Are you gonna get mad and leaf me here?"

Ungatt was furious, but couldn't be mad at Tramun. "No," he sighed, "I guess you'll have to come. Golly, no wonder that pack was so heavy! Here, if your gonna be here, might as well eat."

"Yay!" He opened a can of biscuits and shared them with Tramun. As they ate, they spoke. "Why did he do that? Why did the old hare send you along with me?"

The stoat scratched his head and wiped crumbs off of his chin. "I 'unno. Sumping about keeping a company for ya."

Ungatt sighed, again, as he had been doing constantly. "Well, we better be off to sleep, lad, we've got a long hike ahead of us tomorrow, and I can't carry you the whole way!" He helped Tramun into the tent, and they both fell asleep.

When morning came, Ungatt went outside to fix breakfast and pack up as the baby stoat slept. He was in the middle of warming up some blueberry bread when he was aware of somebeast watching him. He inhaled. Smelled like a bird... Eagle, probably. By the odor of stubbornly uncleaned feathers, it must be a young bird, only seven or eight seasons. No initial threat, but he could tell where it was, behind a rock to his left. He sidestepped casually, but secretly drew a knife from his belt. He started a mental countdown. One, two, three!

"Augh!" the eagle squawked as a giant cat pounced on him and put a dagger to his throat.

"What's your business here, you little flying spy?" Ungatt spat.

"I just wanted some food, sir," the bird cried. "I'm really sorry, and I can just leave you in peace if you don't kill me!"

The wildcat chuckled. He grabbed a few biscuits from a pouch on his belt, a large hunk of meat. "Eat your fill and begone from my side, bird. Where are you traveling?"

The bird ate voraciously and said between swallows, "Anywhere, sir. Anywhere I can eat all sorts of small creatures I could attack and eat my fill on without a problem!" He smiled viciously.

Ungatt smiled. "I can see you are becoming a true bird of prey, lad. What is your name?"

The bird tipped his head back and swallowed before answering. "My name is Argulor, sir."

"Well, Argulor, me boy, how would you like to join me and my friend? We are traveling north to my kingdom, and we could feed you."

Argulor was overjoyed. "Yes sir, I'd really like that!" And so after a short meal, the three traveled forward together. Ungatt led the party, with the two younger ones a short distance behind them making chit-chat with one another. They were going across plains, with kneehigh grasses as far as the eye could see as the ocean was no longer visible. They didn't have any trouble by the time they stopped to make camp, although the wildcat was certain there were some amphibian beings not very far away, newts by the scent. Once Argulor was snoring safely in the lone tree they camped under, and Tramun was safely unconscious in the tent, Ungatt sat, alert, for a sign of movement by the fire.

He was expecting the squishy moist feet as they grabbed his neck, and he grabbed the newts limbs and pulled him over his head and crashed him down on the ground, ominously close to the still hot dying embers. He grabbed the trident lying on the other side of the fire, and pointed the three pointed tips directly at his throat.

"Stay away from me!" he panted to the grass, certainly full of other newts. "Stay back or I'll kill it!" After waiting patiently for a few moments, he unknowingly slacked his hold on the newt below him, and it whipped his tail up nailing him squarely between the legs. The wildcat yelled out in pain, completely letting go of the amphibian, and it slithered away. Ungatt was left aching everywhere from his waist to his knees, and then all hell broke loose. A half dozen more amphibians leaped on him, pinning him to the ground. He reached, but couldn't get to his trident as more appeared in the clearing. Many were newts, but there were also many toads. They began hissing to each other, and Ungatt just sat, unable to writhe around or fight back.

"What do we do?"

"Do youthink he could helphelp?"

"Bigbeast, aye, bigbeast be bighelp."

"This is the only way."

"Bigbeast might run..."

"We tie hem up. He no escape."

Then Ungatt interjected. "What? Just tell me what you want with me!"

A large, fat toad came forward. He had a sloppy crown of dried mud and twigs on his head.

"Greetings, bigbeast," he croaked. "Myhome es three leagues northwest. Et es swumpy grounds, marshy, swumpy. Lotsowater. We are hunted, my people, by water bigbeast, gaint snakey-fish. Et keels us. Et eats us. We be forced to move and findhelp. You help us kill da water bigbeast, we helpyoufind what you are looking for."

Ungatt was puzzled. "How do you know what I am looking for, then?"

"You are going to Northern Highkingdomland. That es where otherkitty bigbeast went." As the bigbeast did not seem to understand, he went on. "Lady kittycat with young kittycat came through ourland. She said, 'I go to Northern Highkindomland.' That es where you want to go, I know." Ungatt was mystified. "So, bigbeast, what sayou?"

Ungatt's eyes narrowed. "You have a deal, toad."

He left a note for the two young ones at the camp, and then left for the marshes. They stretched very far as well, and were bordered on the southwest side by tall mountains. He could even see form where he was, standing above the marshes through the darkness, the giant "snakey-fish." It was an eel, undoubtedly, and was preying on a carcass of a newt. Ungatt was already formulating a plan.

"When does the water bigbeast sleep?" he asked the king.

"Two hours."

"Good. I've thought of a plan."

After a long day hunting slimy creatures, the giant eel, called Waterdeath by some, Snakefish by some, needed some sleep. Only four or five hours, he thought, there were plenty more creatures to terrorize. He swam over to his favourite spot to nap, in a cave underneah a small island. He barely fit this time. Boy, better not eat as many toads tomorrow, he thought. He lay peacefully, and let the rhythmic scratching of somebeast's claws lull him into a deep sleep...

He awoke with a large yawn, realize the sun was beating down on his green face. Golly, I've slept in, he thought. He squeezed out of the tunnel and floated to the surface without a noise. On the island he was sleeping under, he saw a newt, sleeping. Easy prey, he thought. So, here was the plan: jump on land, grab the beast, slither across the island and back into the water, than eat my fill. Alright! Snakefish squirmed backwards, and crouched for the leap...

Ungatt watched from a distance as the eel did exactly as planned. The carcass of the newt on the island looked just like an unconscious thing, so the eel would have no suspicions. It crouched backwards, and jumped out of the water...

Snakefish landed just in front of the sleeping newt, and slithered forward. He sunk his teeth into the satisfying flesh of the newt.

But wait--The animals blood was unusually...cold.

He realised he was tricked after it was too late, and the false turf underneath him collapsed... and he fell, into a deep, wide, pit!

With a splash and a WUUUMPH! the eel landed in the whole that Ungatt and the others had dug. He laughed as a few newts and toads drained some water into the pit where the eel was trapped. Every amphibian in the marshes leaped and croaked and gave out a massive cheer, for their days of hiding and fearfulness were over!

"You have savedus, bigbeast," the king toad said to Ungatt. "We will never be frowned down upon again!"

Ungatt smiled. "Yes, I see that. What I suggest you do is feed the beast, keep him alive. Toss in your fell enemies, and hear them scream as your eel kills them. You will be feared among all around this land. And when I am king of the Northern Highlands, I will make an alliance with you. Now, our agreement?"

The King croaked, happy with the advice Ungatt gave him. "Ah yes, our agreement. A friend of mine is mapmaker and knows the route. If you will wait two days, she will be hereagain, and will give youmaps for the Northern Highkingdomland. Does this sound to you verypleasing?" Ungatt took a breath, and nodded.

"Very well, sir, me and my company will wait for your friend, and then set off as soon as possible."

Stiffener Medick had done a six-mile jog every morning for the last fifty-four seasons, and he was not, what they call, fit. Fit was the least anybeast could do, he would say. More-than-perfect shape was a more fitting term, if even that. He jogged all day and night after he left, stopping every three hours for a fifteen minute water break, where he fitted in a few snacks. He had passed up the sands of the dunes that flanked the Fire Mountain on every side, he had also went over the whole of the marshlands. He was now halfway up a mountain, part of the range that cut the Fire Mountain away from Mossflower country. Oh, look, now he's to the top. Examining a map, I reckon, seeing how much farther until the woodlands. That is where he assumed Verdauga would go to live, a woodland realm rich in all sorts of food and shelter, perfect to raise a family.

So, here was the deal: ascent from the mountain, about a dozen miles of plains, and then Mossflower Woods. Stiffener rolled up his map and started looking for shelter, while gnawing on a carrot. A cave underneath a craggy outcrop of rocks provided thus, and he rolled out a sleeping bag and compact pillow, and stared a small fire enough to warm a few biscuits. He had bought some tinder and firewood with him up the mountain, knowing that he would find little to nothing that burns on top of the mountain.

He heard some beasts coming up the mountain, all sounding sad and harmless, but Stiffener still cleared his throat, and the strangers stepped up to the fire, and the old hare could see that they were mice, three of them: a father and mother, and a young lad that must have been their son. The father carried a magnificent sword on his belt. He was the one to speak.

"Pleas do not mind us sir, we are but poor travelers driven out of our homes," he said in a deep, generally-disappointed kind of voice. "I am Martin, a warrior. This is my wife and our son, Luke."

Stiffener nodded his head to the three. "Stiffener...Forgemaster." A smile began to form on his wrinkled mouth. "A warrior, you say? Then how was it that you were driven from your home?"

Martin the warrior bowed his head. "We stood no chance, old friend. We lived peacefully, in the church of Saint Ninian, in Mossflower Woods. There was an old abandoned building in the woods, a castle of sorts. It was inhabited by a vicious dictator from somewhere North. He was cruel and selfish, caring nothing for us, or anyone in the woodlands for that matter. An old friend of mine, a badger named Brocktree, left before the evil one came. A shame was it because, I believe that if he were with us, he would of fought him off, for I could not without Brocktree's help. Now we are forced to leave."

"And what, is this cruel ruler's name, I may ask?" Stiffener Medick asked smugly, believing the mouse was a liar, making up a story for food.

The "warrior" seemed reluctant to give up the name, as if it pained him, or brought back memories he wished to forget. "His name was... Verdauga...Greeneyes."

The smile was quickly swept away from Stiffener's face. "Verdauga is... a cruel tyrant? Is this Verdauga, brother of Ungatt Trunn and son of Mortspear the Highland king?"

The mouse nodded. "Yes, I believe that would be him."

"I am... seeking him," Stiffener said. "I knew not of this... will you tell me more?"

But Martin shook his head. "Im sorry, old friend, but we must be off. I thank you, now, but we wish to be away from the evil one and all that has to do with him. Good luck, but you will not like what you find in Mossflower." The three mice left, and Stiffener never saw them or heard from them again. He doused the fire, still awestruck, and laid down in his cave. He could not help wondering what to think, was this really Verdauga? Did he become a warlord and conqueror just like his brother? And will he listen to an old hare whom he knew not?

"What have you got yourself into, Medick?" he asked himself, and then drifted off to sleep after dousing the fire.

Leck Ferind was a military beast. Now you may be asking, "then why was he found pitifully thieving for a few scraps of food in a camp of deranged enemies that could easily rip him to shreds? God, this is confusing. I think I'll leave now and forget about this story!" Well, do not do so, for keep in mind I said, was a military beast. His troupe was long gone, having lost one too many battles. He sighed, remembering his old military name: The Bane of Your Existence, or Bane, by his close friends. Many of his battles were fought against Verdauga, Ungatt Trunn's brother. However, now that he was on his own, he relied greatly upon the wildcat's help. He ran for five days from Havloq Gloomer and finally reached the giant castle, known as Kotir. He banged on the gates, and an old Pine-marten, with an unusual metal claw where his hand should have been, opened the doors for him. The old beast grunted when he saw Ferind.

"What do you want, beast?" he said in a deep, scratchy old voice.

In between gasps for breath, he answered. "Kotir...going to be attacked... Bring me to... Verdauga Greeneyes."

Lord Gemspear of the Northern Highlands was never far from his daughter, the queen. He always had to make sure she was ruling to his pleasure. He always had influence on Triaud's decision. Actually, had more influence on her than any of her advisers or counselors. Truthfully, many of the queen's ideas were originally Gemspear's. In fact, before the queen decided anything, Gem would have to hear it first. He was practically the ruler of the Northern Highlands, and Triaud barely knew. However, Gem knew. And he was happy ruling behind the curtain. Every night, Triaud would have to stay up late dealing with petty complaints from commoners and peasants, foolish border skirmishes, and mysterious travelers and merchants that insist on seeing the queen, while Gemspear would quietly sneak off to bed. That is what he did this evening.

He chuckled as he closed the throneroom's door behind him, and, with the aid of his old shillelagh, he hobbled quickly to his bedchamber, while the sounds arguing of his daughter and some superfluous citizen faded into the distance and the nighttime sounds of the castle. He got into a sleeping gown and crawled happily under his covers. It was not long until he dozed off.

The very faint smell of a fire woke him up. He stopped to take in sounds and scents before he revealed his consciousness to whoever was in the room with him. The first thing he noticed after the distant smell of burning wood was that he wasn't in his warm bed anymore; no pillows, blankets and sheets, in fact he was on the cool, moist ground somewhere. A mossy rock propped up under his head replaced his pillow. He also realised everything seemed smaller. His claws were small and neatly trimmed, and his old gray fur atop his head was now short and pulled back into a ponytail. He was young. His eyes shot open, and, once he assumed no one was within visual range, he sat up and examined his short body.

He then examined the surroundings. He was in a giant rocky surface of sorts, except he couldn't see an edge anywhere. Large lichen-covered stones jutted out everywhere. And too add it was the middle of the night, and a new moon. The stars hardly allowed him to see things very far off.

"I know this place," he said aloud, "this is on top of the peak of the Northern Highlands!" The fire he smelled must have been far away, for he couldn't see any unnatural light bouncing off rock surfaces. So he followed the trail of smoke using his nose.

He walked cautiously for several leagues before he could see orange light not too far off. As he grew closer, the smoky smell became overpowering. And then he heard voice. Deep, low, monotonous voices, he could not understand what they were saying--or chanting, as it seemed. He crept closer avoiding loose pebbles as he maneuvered his way through a labyrinth of tall stones.

Then he reached the clearing. He crouched behind a rock to examine without his existence being realised.

There were five beasts excluding himself, including the massive one burning in the fire. The other four were standing around the giant fire, wearing long purple robes, with their paws outstretched. Their faces were hooded. The one straight to his left had a bushy orange-brown tail protruding by his boots, with extremely long fur visible as well.

Mortspear, he guessed.

The one across the fire from Mortspear was giant and bulky, or so it seemed, but it was hard to tell because the beast was hunched to one side, revealing an obvious wound to some part of his abdomen.

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