Why, good day weary traveler! Come, come in and rest by the fire. It is a rather cold winter this season is it not? Now, prop up your feet, settle back in your chair, enjoy some hot mint tea, and listen to my story. It is a story of daring adventures, great battles, heroic deeds, evil schemes and surprising events. But should the last battle of Salamandastron be this way? Gaze into the fire and imagine yourself there, as I relate to you the tale of Salamandastron's end, and the two creatures that this story is about. Let me tell you the tale of Kyrad Bloodflay, Greatrat warlord, and the mighty Lord Cyrus Stormstrike, last of the Badger Rulers of Salamandastron....

Chapter 1

The Great Western Sea glistened like blood as the setting sun sank beyond the vast waters, casting it's crimson light upon the sands of the shores of western Mossflower. Two long shadows slowly crept across the beach as a pair of figures trudged along over the dunes and rocks, going north.

One of the figures, a big stoat, wiped sweat from his eyes and looked up at the next dune they had to ascend. He gave a wheezing moan and growled,

“Oh, by the fur an' fang! Do we really 'ave ter climb over that big ol' hill? Me poor footpaws're killin' me!”

His companion, also a stoat, but one smaller and slimmer, sneered at him,

“Well then Lurgo the lump, yew can go back ter the Firstblade an' tell 'im that you never found the mountain 'cause you was too lazy ter climb o'er a liddle pile o' sand. Idjit! Do yer think that the Firstblade's gonna let that by? You'll be deader'n a baby sparrow in an adder's den!”

Lurgo sighed and gulped. “Alright, alright, ye've made yer point Razly, I'll keep goin'!” Razly sniffed. “O' course you will! Come on, we need ter get back ter the fleet afore it gets dark.”

The two vermin groped up the dune, panting and rubbing grit and sand from their faces. Finally they reached the top and looked out over the other side. There, about half a mile up the beach, stood the huge, monolithic mountain known as Salamandastron, home of the Badger Rulers and the Long Patrol hares. Lurgo whistled under his breath.

“Whew! Will ye look at the size o' dat mountain! No wonder Firstblade Kyrad wants it! He could hold that fortress for seasons an' nobeast'd even come close ter taken it from 'im!”

Razly gave a glance of disdain at his companion. “Well that's why nobeast has captured it from der badgers afore, fat 'ead!”

Lurgo ignored the insult and grinned. “Until Firstblade Kyrad comes ter attack it!”

Razly snickered evilly, “Hehehehe! Of course! Kyrad's been gatherin' his new Rapscallions for seasons now; more'n Tunn or Warfang ever had. If'n Kyrad's spies are right, then there ain't nearly as many o' those fightin' rabbits in there.” He turned and strode back down the dune. “Come on Lurgo. We need's ter get back now.”

The big stoat groaned, “Ooooh! Why'd I ever sign up ter be a scout anyway?” Razly snorted. “Yew didn't sign up mate. You were forced to. We don't get choices like that in the Rapscallions. We live only by what the Firstblade says, an' he'll say that we get sent ter Hellgates if'n we don't get back soon.”

Further south, six huge forms sat in a rocky inlet on the sea, slowly bobbing back and forth like gargantuan cradles. These were the six mighty warships of Kyrad Bloodflay and his Rapscallion army. Each of the vessels was named after the titles of great warlords from the past: The Scourge, The Assassin, The Savage, The Wild, The Shade, and Kyrad's own personal ship, The Tyrant. The Firstblade's fleet was the terror of the oceans. Nobeast on land or sea was safe from his powerful warships and their ruthless captains and crews. The vessels were huge; large enough to hold more than seven score of Rapscallion troops each. The war fleet of Kyrad was indeed a sight to behold and fear.

Razly and Lurgo, the two stoat scouts, came loping along the rocky beach towards the inlet. When they reached the cove they were met by a short, burly fox and a few dozen vermin soldiers. The fox stood with arms crossed, his claws slowly tapping against his muscular shoulders. The two stoats came panting up and saluted to him. The fox gave a nod and said in a husky voice,

“Well? Did ye find the mountain?”

“Aye Rapscour Felgran" Razly replied, "We found the mountain an' there were no sign of anybeast about; not there or on the shore. Twas silent as a graveyard.”

Felgran smirked, “T'will be a graveyard soon enough. I will report back to Firstblade Kyrad of what you have seen. Now get to your ship and prepare yourselves for war. Cause if I know our Firstblade, then he's gonna start the attack tonight.”

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