This is going to be a sequel to "A Tale of Two Rogues" so if you haven't read that yet you might get a bit lost. Disclaimer: Nico the otter and the Skelton family is owned by Salem the Cruel. Thank you Salem for letting me use them.
Thunder roared as bolts of bright white lightning ripped across the dark sky like angry scars. Heavy rain poured down from the heavens and onto the deck of a lone ship and the rough endless sea surrounding it. A cold winter wind howled through the frost covered rigging. The freezing deckhands pulled on heavy ropes to try and furl the sails so they wouldn't get damaged in the gale and so the ship wouldn't get blown off course. The Captain was among them, shouting orders over the gale to scrape the ice off of the sails and to keep pulling. His thick woolen cloak was frozen to his back with sea spray and his thick leather boots slipped on the wet icy deck. His paws were cut up and bloody from the ice covered rope, but they were so numb that he didn't feel any pain. "Pull, me 'earties! Pull! Get these sails up afore they're ruined!" He yelled.
With one last heave the sails were up enough to be tied down, but there was still more work to do.
In the Captain's cabin three female sea otters were trying to comfort two frightened babes. The ship's cook, Willow, held a frightened Adrian who was seven seasons old and the captain's wife, Clarice sat on the bunk trying to calm her newborn. The other female was sixteen seasons old and was tired of listening to her brothers cry. It's just a stupid storm. she thought. Why are they so scared?
Rose Danisham stood up and grabbed her coat. putting it on over her dress. she put on her boots and hat and was about to put on her mittens when her mother noticed and said, "Where are you off too?"
"Out to help dad. I hate just sitting here and doing nothing. Don't try to stop me!"
"Rosemarie Danisham do not speak to me like that. It's too dangerous to go out there."
Rose rolled her eyes and opened the door and a freezing gust of wind blew inside the cabin causing the tiny newborn to wail. She slammed the door behind her. Clarice stood up and handed the babe to Willow. "Clarice where are you going?"
She put on her heavy cloak and boots. "I'm going after her. Rose causes me a lot of grief. If she gets hurt out there I'll never forgive myself."
She left the cabin and stepped out onto the deck and almost fell on a patch of ice. Grabbing the railing she made her way down the stairs to the main deck. She saw Rose next to another young otter named Canvas Waveryder. Clarice started toward them, but the ship lurched sharply as it hit a huge wave and she slipped. She was surprised when somebeast caught her just before her head hit the deck. The otterwife looked up into her husbands face. His whiskers were coated frozen sea spray giving him a fearsome look. "Have you seen Rose?" she asked him.
"What? Is she out here? It's not safe!"
"I know! Help me find her!"
The two looked everywhere and soon found her climbing the rigging with Canvas. "Rose!" Nathaniel bellowed.
She ignored him and kept climbing. Nathaniel went over to a big muscular otter and pointed towards the two. Rigg Waveryder began climbing expertly up to retrieve the two young ones, but only made it up to his son, Canvas, when a big bolt of lightning struck the mainmast causing it to split in two.
Rigg grabbed his son and swung down to the main deck on a stray piece of rope. The crew watched in horror as the top of the mast fell taking the rigging and Rose along with it. The big timber beam crashed down onto the ships railing, splintering it. Half of the beam hung out over the edge. Captain Nathaniel Danisham ran over to the edge with his wife close behind. Rose was struggling for a pawhold on the slippery mast. Nathaniel climbed up onto what was left of the railing and reached out for his daughter. "Grab my paw!" He yelled over the wind and rain.
"I can't, I'll fall!"
"No you won't! Grab onto me now!"
Her paws slipped and she dug her claws into the wood as a gigantic wave swept over both of them. "Daddy!" she cried.
The captain climbed onto the broken mast and tried to grab her. "Grab onto me Rosie!"
"No you wont! I will not let that happen, I promise!"
She reached up towards him and just when they were in paws reach another wave washed over them and her claws lost their hold on the mast. Rose screamed as she fell into rough freezing sea below.
Chapter 1 ~Port Kendall~
"No!" The captain yelled as he dove in after her.
Clarice leaned over the railing yelling, "Nathaniel!"
One of the crew members pulled her away from the edge of the ship, but she fought against him still shouting for her loved ones. The tears rolling down her cheeks blended in with the pouring rain.
Captain Nathaniel Danisham swam around in the dark icy water. He couldn't seem to find his daughter anywhere, This was not a good sign. Nathaniel knew that his body temperature was dropping rapidly and if he stayed in the sea for too long, he could die. He didn't want to give up his search, but he had to resurface for air. As he came up and broke the surface of the water a monstrous wave crashed over him, pulling him back under. He came up again ,but this time grabbed onto the nets hanging on the side of his ship and pulled himself up a few feet, then just hung there shivering uncontrollably. Two burly crewmen pried his claws from the nets and grabbed his arms, pulling him up onto the deck. Nathaniel's whole body was numb with cold, so much so that he could barely move. And if this wasn't bad enough, He was sobbing heavily and mumbling, "No, Throw me back! *Sobbs* I can't give up. My baby, I promised to save her!*sobbs* My Rosie!*sob*"
Clarice was released and she quickly made her way over to her husband. She gasped at the sad state he was in and lead the two crew members that were supporting him into the captain's cabin. Willow flinched as the door opened and she watched in silence as Nathaniel was brought in and put onto the bunk. Clarice shooed the crew members out and shut the door, and then went over to Nathaniel and took off his soaked cloak and shirt, and then pulled off his boots and went to the trunk in the corner and grabbed more blankets and covered him up in a desperate attempt to warm him up. She took one of his massive paws and put it in between both of hers and tried to rub some warmth into it. "I...I t..tried to s..save her! R..R...Rose...g..gone!" He said with his teeth chattering uncontrollably."I...I'm s..sorry, m...m..my l..love."
Tears flowed down Clarice's cheeks. "I know.It's not your fault."
"Y..yes it i..is. I..I b..broke m..m...my p..promise."
"T...to n...not l..le..let her f..fall."
"Shh...Don't blame yourself. That wave came out of nowhere."
He sighed heavily and closed his eyes. "A..are A..Adri..Adrian and C..C..Coty s..safe?" he asked.
"Yes, They're fine. Scared, but fine."
Nathaniel nodded and drifted off into a deep sleep. Clarice stood up and went to sit by Willow on the window seat. Adrian crawled into his mother's lap and snuggled against her. "Momma, where Rosie?"
This brought fresh tears to her eyes and she held her young son closer. "Don't cry momma. Rosie will be awlright. I knows it. We find her!"
She kissed his head. "That was exactly what I needed to hear Adrian."
Willow stood up with the baby and said. "I should be getting back to the galley. Here, Coty just fell asleep."
"Thank you Will." Clarice said softly as she took her infant son from Willow.
The cook nodded politely and grabbed her coat and hat. Before she left she looked over her shoulder to look at them. She had never seen Clarice this hurt. A stray tear slipped down her face as she left the cabin. Outside standing on the deck, Her coat blowing in the wind and rain, Willow touched the necklace she wore and her paw found the tiny pearl her mother had given her a long long time ago. She looked up into the stormy sky and whispered, "Mother, if you're there, please watch over Rose wherever she may be. Perhaps she is with you and father and Latika. Take care of her."
She jumped as she heard her name. Willow looked behind her and saw Jeremy. She sighed with relief. "Oh, Jem you scared me."
"Sorry love. What are you doing out here in the cold? Come on lets get below deck."
They walked down to the galley and Jem bolted the door shut to keep the cold out. Willow added more coals to the stove and hung up her wet coat and hat. Jem did the same and sat down at the table. Willow sat down on her small cot holding her paws near the warm stove. "So what were you doing out there? You looked like you were talking to someone."
"I was. I was asking my mother to take care of Rose."
Jem gave her a weird look. "In other words I was praying for her safety."
"Oh. That makes much more sense."
Willow smiled. "Get some rest. This storm won't be letting up anytime soon."
Jeremy Halloway didn't need any second bidding. He kicked off his boots and went to lay down on the bunk next to his wife. Wrapping his arms around her he asked, "Do you think your prayer is going to work?"
"I hope so. I really do."
The Next Morning After the Storm....
Two water voles were walking down by the beach to go check their fishing nets. It had stormed horribly the night before and they were worried they had gotten damaged. As they began pulling in the first net in one of the voles, named Tanner, began complaining. "Yeesh! This thing is heavy! I 'ope we caught one 'o those big fishes."
The other vole snorted. "Yeah right. We probably caught a load of seaweed."
Together they pulled the net in and Tanner gasped as he saw a paw sticking out from underneath a bundle of seaweed. "Neville, there's a beast in the net! Hurry, help me get 'im out!"
The vole, Neville, took his knife and cut the netting, and then they both threw aside the seaweed to reveal a young sea ottermaid. Tanner took her pulse. "She's still alive! Let's get her to Algernon, and fast. The other nets can wait."
They lifted her onto their shoulders and started towards town.
Captain Nathaniel Danisham awoke with a pounding headache and a sick stomach. He instinctively touched his head and felt cold drops of sweat on his paw. Wiping his paw on the blanket that covered him, he looked over to see Clarice placing a tray on the desk while trying to hold a squirming baby. She muttered something then turned to look at Nathaniel. Seeing that he was awake she said, "Come eat some breakfast."
The captain groaned at the mention of food, but he sat up and swung his legs over the side of the bunk. He stood up and wrapped a blanket around his shoulders. "I think I'll pass on breakfast. Where are my boots?" he asked hoarsely.
"Over by the door. Darling you sound awful, are you feeling alright?"
He put on a shirt and his frock coat then sat down to put on his boots. "I'll be fine. You don't sound the best either."
"I know. I haven't slept for days because of Coty. He was asleep for ten minutes and then started getting fussy again. I was up all night." She yawned.
Nathaniel stood up and kissed her forehead. "Hang in there. He won't be like this forever."
And with that he left the cabin and went down to the main deck. The seas had calmed and the sky had returned to its normal steely gray, but the captain could care less. His attention was focused on the large piece of timber laying on the deck and jutting out over the side. In the light he could see tattered sails and broken ropes wrapped around and hanging from it. He walked towards the wreckage and something bright pink caught his eye. Caught on the splinters of the wood was a pink satin ribbon. Nathaniel gently freed it from the splinters and held it like it was a piece of precious gold. It was Rose's hairband. 'It must've blown off of her head during the storm'. He thought.
A tear slipped down his face as he tied the ribbon around the hilt of his cutlass. He wiped his eyes and went back to inspecting the wreckage. They would have to have the whole mast replaced including the removal of the bottom that was still attached to the deck. But to do this they had to find a port, preferably a close one, and find the right beasts that could fix it. A job like that could very easily take a season to finish and could be very costly. The steersbeast, Jeremy Halloway,came over to the Captain. "Sir, a port has been sighted. We'll be there in about three to four hours. Sir?"
"That's great Jem." He said distractedly.
Jeremy sighed and turned to walk away when the captain began coughing violently. Jem whirled back around to see Nathaniel on his knees and coughing. He knelt down beside his friend and patted his back. "It's alright. Get that sickness out of your system."
When Nathaniel's coughing had slowed, Jem helped him stand up and let the captain lean on him for support. They walked back to the captain's cabin and Clarice assisted Jem getting the captain to sit down and drink a glass of water. Clarice felt his forehead. "Nathaniel, you're burning up. I'm going to go get Willow. Adrian?"
The young otter looked up at her. "Yes momma?"
"Watch your brother. I'll be right back." Clarice left with Jeremy and Adrian went to sit by the basket that served as his tiny brother's cradle.
He picked up a silver rattle and shook it in front of Coty's nose. The babe squeaked and reached out for the toy, grabbing it with his tiny paws and pulling it out of Adrian's grasp. "Hey! you likkle terror. Stealin from your brudder isn't nice."
Coty giggled and started chewing on the rattle. "Yuck, now it bes all slobbered."
Adrian watched his brother curiously. How could something so tiny be so much work? he thought.
He turned towards his father, who was blowing his nose with a rag and holding his head."Dad?" he asked.
Nathaniel looked at his eldest son. "What?"
"uh...where do babies come from? I know that Coty was in momma's tummy, but how did he get there?"
Nathaniel fidgeted with a charcoal stick that was laying on the desk. He often fidgeted when he didn't know what to say. "Uh..that would be a good question to ask your mother."
"But you has to know."
"Aye, but you're too young to understand."
Adrian sighed knowing that his dad wouldn't tell him. Clarice soon came back with Willow. Willow went over to the corner stove and began getting out different herbs from her satchel to make medicine. Clarice sat down heavily on the window seat and Adrian crawled up beside her. "Momma,"
"Yes Adrian what is it?" she asked wearily.
"Where do babies come from?"
Willow tried to stifle a laugh at Clarice's surprised expression. "I'll tell you when you're older."
"How much older momma?"
"Much much older honey, Now why don't you go play?"
The little sea otter sighed and put on his coat and boots, then left the cabin to find someone to play with. Willow turned to Clarice and said, "Well that was an unexpected question. Wonder what perked that interest?"
Clarice sighed. "He would've asked sooner or later. Oh Will, I don't think he's realized yet that Rosie isn't coming back. Adrian is so optimistic and carefree."
"Aye, Here give this to Nathaniel. It should help bring the fever down and take care of whatever else he has." she said as she handed the tired otterwife a small bottle of freshly brewed medicine.
"Thanks, whats in it?"
"I can't tell ye. It's my mother's recipe."
The captain had been listening to them and walked over to where his wife sat. "Thankee Will, I'll take it and try to get some rest. I'm sure you're needed elsewhere so I'll stop bothering you."
"Oh its no bother captain. Get some rest."
later that same day.....
The 'Phantasma' pulled into the port around late afternoon. Captain Nathaniel Danisham was sound asleep on his bunk while Clarice sat close to the warm stove in the corner and was nursing Coty. Suddenly there was a knock on the door. Clarice pulled a blanket over herself and said, "Come in."
Rigg Waveryder entered. His face reddening with embarrassment as he saw Clarice. "Um...sorry miss I'll wait."
"Just tell me now Rigg. Nathaniel won't be awake for a while yet."
"There's a mouse down on the docks that wishes to speak to the captain about the docking fee."
"I'll be there in a moment. Tell him to stay."
Rigg saluted her. "Aye aye miss."
He left the cabin and back out onto the deck. Clarice finished nursing her son and placed him in his cradle. She smoothed her skirts and left the cabin and walked down the gangplank to the docks. There stood a bespectacled mouse dressed in an official uniform. "Excuse me," she said, "you wanted something about a dock fee?"
"Hmm..yes..er, er I asked for the captain of this vessel, not a female."
Clarice crossed her arms over her chest. "The captain is very sick, and this "female" happens to be his wife."
"I..I'm terribly sorry miss. My mistake. Um..about the fee. How long do you plan on docking here?"
"Until the mast is fixed. so about a season at most."
The mouse scribbled something down on his clipboard. "About three gold pieces should do."
Clarice ran back up the gangplank and went into her cabin. From the desk drawer she pulled out a small change pouch and pulled out three large gold dablunes. She put the pouch back and went back to give the money to the mouse. "Here."
"Thankee kindly miss."
He turned smartly on his heel and began walking away. Clarice placed her paws on her hips and glared at the mouse. "Hmph! I've never met anyone as rude as him. Not wanting to parlay with me just because I'm female. The nerve of some creatures!"
She stormed back onto the ship and went down to the galley. There she sat down heavily into a wooden chair and sighed. Willow was standing at the stove making lunch when she saw the exhausted otterwife come in. She poured two mugs of tea and went to sit by her friend. "Oh Clarice you look exhausted. Is there anything I can help you with?"
Clarice shook her head. "No, it's just that I've been through so much these past few days. I lost my daughter and I haven't slept, and now Nathaniel is sick." She was in tears now.
Willow put her paw on top of her friends. "Clarice, I know how it feels to lose someone you love. It's hard."
The mid seasoned otterwife shook her head. "No you don't Will! You don't know what its like to lose a child!"
Willow stood abruptly and put her paws on her thin hips. "You think I don't know? I know very well what its like. I never told you what happened during my first season of marriage! I had a little girl, but she was stillborn. Dead." Will was breaking down into sobs. "How do you think I felt?"
Clarice got up knocking over her chair and spilling the tea. She ran back up to the main deck pushing past Jeremy who was coming down the stairs and went back to her cabin slamming the door. Surprisingly Coty didn't wake up and start crying,but it woke Nathaniel. He sat up slowly and saw his wife leaning against the wall, her head down, and teardrops falling to the floor. He got up and put his arms around her and pulled her close. Clarice buried her face in his shirt and began crying harder. "Shh, it's going to be alright."
Rose awoke suddenly. Her dark brown eyes searching frantically for anything familiar. She sat up and winced as a sharp pain coursed through her chest. Looking down she saw that the whole top half of her torso was wrapped tightly in thick white gauzy bandages. Suddenly she heard paw steps outside the door of her room. She held her breath as a large silver striped badger came into the room. he smiled and said, "'m glad to see you awake.I didn't know if you were going to make it or not. Sorry about the bandages young un, You may have a few cracked ribs because I had to use CPR to bring you around after we lost your pulse."
Rose exhaled and replied shyly, "That's alright sir. May I ask who you are and where I am?"
"I am Algernon and this building is my clinic. Now the town you are in is Port Kendall, biggest port town near Mossflower country. Just north of the island is Salamandastron. Tell me young un what your name is."
"I'm Rosemarie Danisham, but please call me Rose."
"I see. get some rest Miss Danisham. I'll have my assistant bring you some supper in a bit."
Rose nodded and Algernon quietly left the room, shutting the door softly behind him. The young ottermaid rested her head on the pillow and sighed. She wasn't tired or hungry, instead she felt alone. This was an unfamiliar place and her parents were probably hundreds of miles away. She felt tears welling up in her eyes at the thought and then shook her head. No. No tears. She had to stay strong in this place. She got up and put on a pale yellow robe that was hanging on a wall rack and then went over to the small window. Rose pushed open the shutters and a shiver ran through her body as a wintry wind blew in the room. As the shiver past she stared in awe at the night life of Port Kendall. Lights, warm and inviting filled the little houses and shops. Along the pier she could she the faint outlines of ships through the misty lantern light hanging from rigging lines. Suddenly there was a knock on the door and she jumped into bed and said, "Come in."
A thin lanky otter came into the room carrying a tray of food. He had reddish brown fur streaked with silver. He wore a long sleeved blue tunic with a plaid scarf around his neck. The square spectacles on his nose were crooked. "Brrrr, Why do ye have the window open lass? Do ye want tae freeze tae death?"
He set the tray down on the bedside table and went to close the window. When he turned around he said, "Well, eat up. I dinae bring that food up here tae get cold."
Rose grabbed the tray and began nibbling at a piece of bread covered with honey. He nodded approvingly at her. "A bonny lass like ye needs tae eat or else ye'll just be skin an bone. Now tell me what is your name?"
In between bites of food she said, "Rose, Rose Danisham."
"A Danisham eh. I 'aven't eard that name for many seasons. Do you by chance know an Andrew Danisham. A braw ole beastie he was."
Rose shook her head. "I never knew him personally, because he died way before I was ever born, but my father tells stories of him every once and a while. Oh, and what is your name pray tell?"
"Marcus, i've worked for Algernon many seasons now. What are ye starin at lassie?"
Rose had been temporarily fascinated by the highlander's dark gray eyes that looked so familiar. She quickly looked down at the tray of food on her lap. "Sorry, I didn't mean to stare."
Marcus patted her shoulder gently. "It's alright lass. I'll be doon stairs if ye need anythin."
The kind highland otter left leaving Rose alone once again.
Chapter 2 ~The Search~
The next day Captain Nathaniel Danisham awoke before the dawn and walked down the pier deep in thought. What if Rose survived? Surly someone would know about a poor sea otter maid adrift at sea, right? He sighed. The captain's breath was visible in the cold morning air and it swirled around for a few seconds like silver smoke before dissapearing. Nathaniel came to the end of the pier and sat down on a cargo crate. Out of his coat pocket he took out a pack of cigarrettes and stuck one in his mouth. He lit it with a match, then took a long draw from it, blowing the smoke form his mouth. Captain Nathaniel Danisham rarely smoked, but he was stressed. Smoking was just another bad habit that he had picked up from his father, Andrew, After meeting Clarice all of his bad habits had decresed dramatically.
As he sat there on the crate, smoking and looking out at the mist shrouded sea, he thought about what his father would do in this situation. 'Probably get the mast fixed and then ship out again without a care about his child.' he thought.
'Dad never cared about me. The crew raised me, not him. When he tried to teach me to swim he took me out in a longboat and pushed me in expecting me to swim. I was only five then.'
Nathaniel finished his cigarette and started heading back to his ship.
Clarice was awakened by the sound Coty's crying. She sat up and groaned. Why wouldn't he let her sleep? She got up and went over to her son's cradle and picked him up, holding him close. "Shh...It's alright." The babe started to calm down. "There now, you're alright."
Clarice went to go lay down again still holding the babe. Putting him beside her she began to drift off to sleep again when Nathaniel burst into the room and sat noisily down at his desk. Clarice glared at him. "Really? You just come in here loud as can be without a concern about another creature?"
"Ugh...Nathaniel James Danisham, what am I going to do with you?"
"Chop off me rudder and hang me by my toes from the mainmast...I know. Your threats don't scare me anymore."
He chuckled. "I won't be here very long anyways. I need to go find a repair crew and a dry dock so we can get the hull scrubbed. Is it alright if I take Adrian into town with me?"
"It's alright, but don't do anything stupid. I don't want Adrian picking up bad habits at the age of seven."
He nodded and stood up, slipping something into his pocket. As he was walking out the door he said, "We'll be back before dark."
Canvas Waveryder was scrubbing the deck of the ship with his friend Renji. He hadn't said a word ever since Rose was lost and Renji was trying to get him to talk. "C'mon Canvas, It's not your fault."
Canvas's face was hard and he kept on scrubbing the deck harder as if trying to get rid of frustrations. "I killed her." he mumbled.
"No you didn't the st..."
"Yes I did Renji! It's my fault that she went into the rigging in the first place. I killed her!" Canvas snapped.
He threw the scrubbrush a the younger river otter and got up off his paws and knees and stormed off toward the pier. Renji Halloway sighed and tenderly rubbed his shoulder where the scrubbrush had hit him. Why was his friend letting the situation eat him up inside? He knew that Canvas had loved Rose but seriously, her death had been hard on everyone.
Canvas had stalked off into town. He ducked into a small tavern and took a seat at the bar. The bartender, a hedgehog, looked at him suspiciously. "Ain't you a little young to be drinkin?"
"I'm old enough. I'm nineteen, an adult, now please get me something strong."
The hedgehog glared at him, but went to go fix the drink. Canvas sighed and took off the woven necklace he wore. On the woven string there were two plain gold rings, nothing special, but to him they were valuable. He had bought them at the last port that they had stopped at. Both had cost all of his money, but it was worth it. But now after the storm, neither ring would get a chance to be worn. The bartender came back with the drink and put it in front of canvas. He handed the hedgehog a copper coin and watched as he walked off to tend to other customers. He took a drink from the tankard and was satisfied when he felt the strong alchohol burning his throat. He finished the drink and put the woven cord back around his neck and left the tavern, and went walking alone through the busy town of Port kendall.
Nathaniel Danisham was going through the bustling marketplace in Port Kendall. His young son Adrian held tightly to his father's paw so they wouldn't get seperated. They went over to a merchant that was selling fresh fruits and bought a sack of oranges for the crew. Next he went over to a cart where two voles were seling fish and other organisms from the sea. it was obvious thet they were fisherbeasts. "Hello, good sir, what can me brother and I do for you?" said one of the voles.
"Well, I was wondering if you had any...oomph!"
A sea otter maiden had shoved past him. She was tall and lanky with dark fur and the trademark blue eyes of a Galedeep. "I'm sorry sir, I need to speak with these two for just a moment."
The fatter of the two vole brothers crossed his arms over his chest and glared at the maid. "Miss Layla, can't you see that we have a customer?"
"I know and i'm so sorry, but mother wants an order of fresh mussles for her party. Also I came to give you this. She gave an envelope to the vole while the other one was filling a rucksack with clams. The voles eyes widened. "You mean that we're invited? You hear that Tanner, We're invited to the annual masquerade!"
Nathaniel cleared his throat. "Excuse me, but I don't have much time. Can I get two sea urchins?"
"Yes sir, sorry sir."
The maid named Layla paid for her things and stood off to the side talking to the vole whom she had given the invite to. "So any good gossip floating around town these days?" she asked.
"Yeah, other fisherbeasts have seen the legendary ship, PHANTASMA in the port. They're sayin that ole Andrew Danisham is back from the dead. Now I don't believe that, but there are some that do. Anyways Tanner and I have had our own interesting thing happen to us."
"Well the other day we found the strangest thing in our net. A young sea ottermaid had been brought in with the tide and got tangled in the netting. She was barely alive and I'm glad that we got her to Algernon when we did or else she would've died. poor thing. She should still be there recovering."
Nathaniel had heard every word and wanted to know who Algernon was. The vole, Tanner, Gave him his sea urchins and he paid for them, then the captain turned toward the maid. "Sorry for eaves droppin but who is Algernon?"
"he is the best doctor in the port. Algernon is an ancheint old badger who knows how to cure almost any ailment. I happen to be studying under him to be a nurse."
He nodded. Layla looked at a small brass pocket watch, "Oh, dear i'm late! I'll see you later Neville."
She hurried off and didn't realize that she had dropped an invite. Nathaniel picked it up and put it in his pocket. "C'mon Adrian." They started to leave, but Nathaniel stopped and turned back to the vole, "By the way, I own the PHANTASMA."
The voles jaw dropped and Nathaniel smirked. Then they began their way back to the ship to drop off their goods. Nathaniel had gotten the information he wanted. Rose was alive.
Arriving back at the ship he gave the sea urchins to Adrian so he could take them down to Willow. The rest of the crew eagerly waited in line to receive a peice of fruit. It was a rarity to have fresh fruit aboard the ship and it helped prevent them from getting sick. Once everyone had received a peice, Nathaniel took the extras into his cabin and put them in a bowl on his desk. Clarice was awake and looking much better. She was sitting on the floor giving Coty a bath. "Hey, you're back sooner than I expected. Did everything go alright?" she asked.
"Of course it did. Better than I thought actually, I um...found some stuff out that you might like to hear."
Coty giggled as he slpashed around in the washtub, the bubbles tickling his nose. Clarice smiled. "What stuf did you find out?"
"Well,I think Rosie is alive. I 'eard two beasts talking about a sea otter maid being washed up on the shore. Said she was taken to some doctor named Algernon. For some reason his name sounds familiar. Anyways I think it's Rosie."
"That's wonderful, but...what if it isn't her?"
He stayed silent for a while. Finally saying, "Then we'll keep on looking."
Clarice pulled her infant son out of the bath and wrapped him in a towel, scrubbing him dry. Standing up she handed him to Nathaniel. "Hold him for a moment while I get some clothes for him."
Coty stared up at him with big brown eyes. "What?"asked Nathaniel. Coty reached out a paw and pulled on his whiskers, giggling. "Yowch! you little terror! Don't be hurtin your daddy like that."
He pried his whiskers out of the babes grasp. "You may be cute, but that was just cruel." He said with mock pity. He ruffled his sons headfur gently, but then noticed something strange about his fur. "Hey Clarice, have you noticed this?"
"Noticed what?" She came over with the clothes.
"Tell me if i'm seeing things, but is it just me or is that a patch of red fur?"
Clarice looked at her son's head. "Huh, that's odd. Look theres another patch on his back. He must be changing fur colors. Wonder how he got red though."
"Well it's not from me. No Danisham has ever had red fur. It must be from you're side of family."
She shrugged. "It's possibe. I never knew my parents."
Nathaniel kept picking through his son's fur, looking for more red. "Are you sure he's my kid?" he asked jokingly.
"Of course i'm sure!" said Clarice. "Now give him here so I can dress him. "
He handed her the babe. She dressed him in a clean smock and placed her son on a blanket that she had spread on the floor. Giving him a few toys, Clarice went back over to Nathaniel and wrapped her arms around his shoulders. Looking over him she saw that he was reading a letter of some sort. "What's that?" she asked curiously.
"Well it's obviously something.Who's the letter from?"
"Its not a letter. it's an invite. And lets just say that I aquired it by chance." he said.
"Why do you always hide things from me? At least let me know what we're invitded to."
"A Masquerade party. Here i'll read it." He cleared his throat and began, "You are invited to attend Anitra Galedeep's third annual winter ball. This year's theme will be masquerade so be sure to wear a mask. The ballroom is located at the center of the Galedeep mansion, atop the big hill. The ball will start at eight 'o clock in the evening. Please come. P.S. I apologizze for last year. I do hope you come. Sincerely, Layla Corrin Galedeep."
Clarice furrowed her brow in confusion. Why would this Galedeep girl apologize to them when they didn't even know them. Seeing the envelope on the desk she grabbed it and read the name scrawled on the front. BROOKEBATTLE. "Nathaniel James! this is not our invite. I can't believe you stole it!"
"I didn't steal it, I found it. And besides. If this couple wasn't happy last year I doubt that they'd go again. Also..do you know who Anitra Galedeep is?"
" The host of the party?"
"Yes, , but she is also my mother."
Clarice was taken aback. "She...She's your mother?"
Nathaniel nodded. "She left my father and I after I was born. Ran off with some rich Galedeep. I'm assuming that Layla Galedeep would be my half sister. So are you coming with me?"
"This party. I want to talk to her. Please go with me?"
"I don't have a dress, or a mask."
"Then i'll buy you one. After we get the dress we can go straight to the party."
Clarice folded her arms over her chest. "Who's going to watch Adrian and Coty?" she asked.
The captain had to think about this. "Well...Willow hasn't been well lately, so how about Rigg's eldest...what's his name again? It's a weird name too."
"You mean Boom? He's the middle son remember. The eldest left and got married."
"Yes, yes Boom. He's responsible."
Clarice sighed. It looked like there was no other option. She took Coty below decks with her and found Adrian playing pirates with Renji. "Where's Boom?" she asked.
Adrian put a claw to his lips. "Shh...he's sleepin. O'er dere in da 'ammock."
"Don't worry Mrs. D, we'll get 'im up." said Renji.
"Ok little buddy this calls for operation sneak attack. We have to surprise evil Captain Boom and then steel his treasure. Are you in matey?"
"Aye, aye shipmate."
"Alright on three...one...two...three Charge!"
The two young uns raced over to where Boom was asleep and tackled him, causing all three of them to land on the wooden floor of the deck with a thud. Boom groaned and rubbed his head ruefully. "Ouch...You two can't you see I need my beauty sleep?"
Renji chuckled. "If you want to get beautiful you're going to need a lot of sleep."
"Speak for yourself." he then turned his head and saw Clarice standing there shaking her head in dissaproval. "Oh hey Clarice!"
"That's Mrs. Danisham to you. I need to talk to you about watching the boys for me tonight."
Boom stood up and walked over to her. "Of course, Where are you goin tonight?"
"Just on a date. I'll be back late with the captain. Coty's been fed already, but if he gets hungry he can have tiny bits of cooked fish mixed with greensap milk. Are you sure you're okay with watching them?"
"Yeah, they'll be fine. Go have fun on your date. You deserve a break"
"Thank you Boom.." she said as she handed Coty over to him. "By the way where's your brother?"
"I've been wondering the same thing. renji said he stormed off earlier. Haven't seen him since."
"Okay, well take care of them." She gave coty a quick kiss and tried to give Adrian one, but he refused saying that pirates didn't get kisses from their mums. She went back abovedecks and went with Nathaniel into town.
~Chapter 3 The Masquerade~
Rosemarie Danisham was sitting in the study reading a book while Marcus was at his desk filing medical records. He yawned and turned his head towards where she sat. "What are ye readin lassie?"
She looked at the cover of the book. "The Anatomy of sea otters. It's has a whole section on how my body would work. Quite interesting except for the long words."
The highlander smiled. "I'm glad ye take an intrest in it. Maybe ye could be a nurse."
She shook her head. "No, I'm not that smart. I couldn't remember all of this."
"Nobeast can. That's why there's books with everythin ye need tae know lass."
"Hey what's this?" She said to herself as she turned the page. She took out a folded piece of yellowed parchment and opened it. it looked like a letter and began reading it to herself. "Dear, Marcus O' Leary,
I am sorry for the loss of your precious daughter. What Miranda did was unac..."
For as old as he was Marcus moved very quickly. He jumped up from his chair and snatched the letter from her. "M...marcus. You never said you had a daughter. Who is Mir..."
"Don't say that name!" He snapped.
His gray eyes blazing with hatred. "Don't say that name. Ever. Now get out o' 'ere afore I force ye."
Rose left the room. The book still in her paws. She went down to the parlor and sat on the sofa. She opened the book again, but was too confused to read. Who was Miranda. Why did Marcus get so mad about her name? Why didn't he mention a daughter? If he did have a child she would have to be about the same age a her mom. She had to know more! Just as she stood to go back up to the study, Algernon came into the parlor followed closely by a sea otter maid A few seasons older than herself. She had to be in her early twenties at most. She wore an elegant burgundy dress with a gold necklace. She surley wasn't poor. "Ahh, Miss Danisham. This is Layla Galedeep. She's my student."
"It's nice to meet you Layla."
"The same to you...Um."
She nodded and took a seat in an overstuffed armchair. Algernon seated himself in another larger armchair closer to the fireplace. "Where's Marcus?"he asked.
Rose answered. "Upstairs in the study. He kind of got mad at me when I found an old letter in this book."
Algernon nodded. "I understand. Miss Layla, will you get what I asked you to buy?"
She nodded and left the room. She came back with three packages. Layla placed them on the coffee table in front of rose."Uh..Algernon...Y..you didn't have to get me anything."
"Of course I did. You can't wear a bathrobe all the time. Open your gifts."
She opened them. The first package contained a pair of lace up boots.The second had a plain blue dress along with a prettier white one. The third package contained a beautiful black coat with silver buttons. Rose looked up at the ancheint badger. "Oh Algernon, this is much too much. I'll never be able to repay you."
"Miss Danisham even if you could, I wouldn't let you repay me for anything. These are gifts. And I suggest you take them."
She nodded in understanding. "Thank you, for everything."
Layla cleared her throat. "Well Rose, I've already told Algernon, but I wanted to invite you as well to my mother's winter ball tonight."
"I'd love to, but what will I wear? i mean these dresses are lovely, but certainly aren't ballgowns."
"No, but I have a dress you can wear from a few seasons ago. It doesn't fit me anymore, but i'm sure it'll be perfect on you."
"thanks. I'll go upstairs and get dressed so we can go. Do you think Marcus would want to come to the party too?"
Algernon shook his head. "I'd give him some time to cool down. His temper is unpredictable and when it flares up it takes a while to get him back to normal. don't be too hard on him for yelling, i'm sure he didn't mean it like he said it. He's had a hard life."
"Oh, what happened to make him like this?"
The anchient badger sighed and rubbed his temple. "Well, he lost everything that he held dear to him. His daughter and his wife. North of the mountain Salamandastron is a small otter holt where he had settled down in after traveling for many seasons alone. There he met a maid named Miranda. From what he told me about her, she was quite pretty and very nice. Anyways they fell in love and married, not long after that Miranda was going to have a child. Marcus was ecstatic of course and when the babe was born was even more excited. It was a tiny female that they had. I believe he named her Temperence because of her rambunctious spirit." Algernon chuckled to himself then settled back into a frown. "A few days after the child's birth both Miranda and the babe dissapeared. Marcus was frantic, searching everywhere. Poor creature didn't sleep for days, he stayed awake at night sitting outside the holt with a lantern, waiting for them to return. About two weeks went by and he was about to give up when Miranda came stumbling back to the holt. Her clothes dirty and torn and her body thinner. Immeadiately Marcus began questioning her. 'Where's my daughter?' 'What happened?' 'Why don't you have Temperance?' She broke down into tears and said that vermin had captured them both after she was going on a nightly stroll with the babe. She said that the vermin had killed their daughter and that she was lucky to be alive. At first he believed her, but as time went by he began suspecting that she wasn't telling him what really happened. He went to the Skipper and they both questioned her again. This time she let them know her disturbing little secret. She laughed as she said that she had been the one who killed Temperence. She said that she had left the child to drown when the tide came in and tore and dirtied her clothes to make him believe that vermin had done it. Skipper had to hold Marcus back from trying to kill her then and there with his bare paws. Later skipper sentenced her to be hung for her unspeakable crime. The rest of the holt supported his descision and did everything they could to try and comfort Marcus. He wouldn't accept their sympathy and left the holt after the hanging. He came to the port looking for a better life, that's how he came to work for me."
"How awful!" exclaimed rose.
Algernon nodded and said, "Go get dressed. we don't want to be late to the party."
Rose went to her room and dressed in the blue dress, the boots, and the black coat. Out of curiosity she went down the hall to see if Marcus had calmed down. Pushing open the door and stepping inside the room, Rose found Marcus at his desk with his face buried in his arms. She could hear the sobs that wracked his thin frame. The young maid went over to his side and placed a paw gently on his shoulder. Marcus stiffened and looked over his shoulder at her. His glasses had fallen off and tears still streamed down his face. "Go away. I donae want yore sympathy."
"Marcus...I'm sorry for what happened with your daughter. Algernon told me about your past and its hard to believe that a mother would do that to her own child."
"Well its true. She wasn't right in the head and I failed tae notice it until twas too late. Please go I wish tae be alone." he said.
"Okay i'll leave, but I want to say that one part of the story stood out to me. When Miranda had LEFT the babe to drown on the tideline...it reminded me of what happened to my mother. She was abandoned as a babe and was found on the beach in front of Salamandastron by a hare. Her name is Clarice though, not Temperance."
Marcus stood up and faced her. Bringing himself to his full height. "My daughter is dead. She has been for over thirty seasons! Now go!"
Rose sighed and left the room. She went back down to the parlor and was caught off guard as Layla grabbed her arm and began pulling her towards the door. "Come on! I have a coach waiting for us!"
She pulled the younger maid towards a carriage being pulled by a small roan mare was parked. The driver, a mouse, tipped his hat to Layla as they climbed inside the coach. Layla Galedeep knocked on the roof twice and Rose had to catch herself as the coach jerked foreward and began to move. "What about Algernon?" asked Rose.
"He's coming later. We needed to leave so we could get dressed." replied Layla.
Rose looked out of the small window and stared at the snow covered streets and warmly lit shops. Everything seemed so perfect here. No vermin, no pirates. Only good and caring creatures. Before she knew it the coach was taking them into the higher society of Port Kendall. Bigger houses and even mansions arose in front of them. At last they pulled up in front of a gigantic mansion that made all of the other homes look small. Rose followed Layla out of the coach and stared in awe while she paid the driver. The white brick mansion had marble stairs leading up to the solid oak door. She jumped as Layla tapped her shoulder. "Like what you see? Just wait until you see the inside. Just don't go into shock on me."
They went up the grand steps and walked into the house. The red carpet was plush and soft and the walls were decorated with gold accents. Large gold and crystal chandeliers hung from the ceiling. Layla led her up another grand set of stairs to the second level and then down a long hallway. The hall was lined with paintings of past Galedeep lords and ladies. Layla stopped in front of one of the paintings and said, "This is my father, Lord Lucian Galedeep. He is the current Galedeep lord." Lucian Galedeep was big and broad shouldered with dark gray fur and the same blue eyes as Layla. In the painting he was dressed in an elegantly tailored suit and leaning on a glod hilted sword that was studded with blood red rubys. He looked every bit the royal figure. Layla sighed heavily. "My room is to the right. I should get your dress so you can try it on."
"C'mon Clarice, let me see the dress."
"No. I think I look bad." shd said from behind the curtain.
"I doubt that. besides if we don't hurry up we're going to be late."
"Fine, but tell me if I look fat or not."
"I really don't know why you think that you've gotten fat. You have a good figure. Wow...you look great!" he said as Clarice came out in a silver gown.
"Good. And I think i'm fat because I haven't lost all of the weight that I had gained from being pregnant with Coty yet. So do I look royal enough? "
"You my blossom look like a princess out of a fairytale. What do you think of my royal attire."
"It's great, but the hat is a bit much isn't it?" Clarice asked with a furrowed brow.
His hat was large with a long feathered plume sticking out of it. "No, the hat is the most important part, it makes the disguise believable."
"Whatever," she picked up their masks "Lets pay for all of this and start heading to the party."
They paid for their things and caught a ride from a coach heading towards the "rich" district. The coach let them off about a block away from the Galedeep mansion. As they came up to the estate they were left standing in awe at the huge estate that almost looked like a palace. They were brought out of their trance when a servant came up to them and asked for their invitation. Nathaniel gave it to the squirrel servant and followed him into the estate. He left them at the entrance of the ballroom and went to go usher more guests in. Nathaniel and Clarice put on their masks. "Are you ready?" He asked his wife.
"As i'll ever be darling."
He took her arm on his and pushed open the large doors of the ballroom. The room was an elegant sight! White marble floors with dull gold and gray swirls, high ceilings, and one large glass chanlelier that illuminated the whole room which was full of creatures, both vermin and goodbeasts alike. Clarice felt Nathaniel tense at the sight of the vermin. "Calm down, if you go off on a killing spree then you won't meet anitra." she whispered out of the side of her mouth.
He took a deep breath. "Sorry."
"So what does Anitra look like?"
"From what I was told...she has green eyes, tall, and dark furred."
"Then lets start looking."
Back at the ship...
Renji and Boom's babysitting job was getting boring. Coty was asleep in Renji's armsBoom was on the floor helping Adrian draw a picture of a ship. "You a great artist Boom! Can yous help me make a picture for mama?"
"Sure little buddy."
Suddenly there were loud footfalls coming down the stairs andCanvas appeared at the bottom looking ragged and smelling heavily of alchohol. "Where have you been? Dad's gonna ground you for life."
Boom quickly covered Adrian's ears. "Language!"
Canvas slumped down in his hammock. Little Adrian got up and went over to Canvas's side. "Canvaas! You need a baff. If my momma caught me stinkin like dat she'd chop me rudder off."
"Go away Adrian. I want to be alone."
"Whys you so grumbly? You sound like my daddy when hes grumbly, he grumbly lots! Proby cuz he don't sleep nough."
"I said go away!" Canvas growled, baring his teeth.
Tears welled in adrian's big gray eyes and he broke down into sobs. The young otter kit ran back to Boom who scooped him up in his strong arms and stood up. "You should be asamed of yourself! Making a child cry. Come on Renji."
They went back above to the captain's cabin away from Canvas.
Once there they were surprised to see a group of three crew members come storming out of the cabin followed closely by Jeremy. "Please wait! You'll get your pay I promise! The captain will be back." he yelled, but the crew members kept on walking to the gangplank and off into the port. Jeremy growled with rage. Fifteen crewbeasts had been lost in just the past few days. The blonde furred first mate glanced at Renji and Boom almost yelling at them but thought better of it. He sighed heavily and stormed off towards the galley.
Unbeknownst to him, Willow was down there already sitting on her cot fretting about the what she had just found out. Her nerves were on edge even more than usual as she thought of how she was going to tell him. Oh what would she tell him? She was startled as her husband came storming down the stairs, obviously unhappy. He grabbed a bottle of rum off of a shelf and sat down at the small table. Willow stood up and went over to him. "Uh...Jem what is wrong?"
"Many things my darling. Without Nathaniel around nothing has been going right." He took her thin paw gently in his. "If I didn't have you i'd be insane."
She smiled a bit. "There's something I need to tell you something...important."
"What is it?"
"Well I...um. How do I say this?"
His sapphire blue eyes looked expectantly at her. "What's bothering you Will? Is something wrong?"
"No, well maybe. I just can't find the right words. Here."
She grabbed his paw and placed it on her stomach. He still looked confused. "What are you trying to say? Are you...?"
"Yes, i'm going to have a baby. Our baby."
Back at the party...
Clarice and Nathaniel were still on the search for Anitra when a tall slim seaotter wife in a burgundy ballgown and a gold mask began tapping a spoon on the side of a wine glass to get the attention of all the guests. Everything fell silent. "Thank you all for being here at this years festivities. Let us officially start with the first dance, shall we!"
Clarice stepped out onto the floor with the captain.The music began and they started to dance. "Was that her?" Clarice asked.
"Aye. I pictured her differently though. She's almost my height."
"So what. At least we found her."
He nodded. "Now we just have to get to her. To do that we have to get there." He said indicating the other side of the ballroom where Anitra was talking with a young ottermaid that resembled the one he had met in the market. They began dancing their way through the crowd and once they were out of it began heading towards Lady Galedeep. Layla was the first to spot them. She smiled and said, "Hello! Are you enjoying the party?"
"Oh yes, very much so." Clarice replied. Nathaniel didn't say anything as he stared at Anitra. He couldn't believe she was right here, so close to her, his mother. Anitra looked at the couple like they weren't worth her time. She said, "It was nice meeting you but I really have other things to attend too." She turned to leave.
"Wait!" Nathaniel blurted.
Lady Galedeep turned back to him. "Yes? What is it?"
"Wh...Why did you do it?"
"I beg your pardon?"
"Why did you leave my father and I?"
"I have no idea what you are talking about. Who are you?" she asked suspiciously.
Nathaniel removed his mask and said, "Do you not recognize your son?"
Her green eyes widened. "You...It can't be. How did Andrew not kill you?"
"Believe me, he tried on more than one occasion. I blame you for his drunkenness though. You left him with a broken heart and a long lasting anger." He replied.
"Mother..." Layla said softly. "Why didn't you tell me I had a brother?"
"He is none of your concern Layla. I do not claim him as my son nor will I ever."
But mom, he said..."
Anitra glared daggers at her daughter."Go to your room Layla."
Anitra slapped the maid. "do not talk back to me. Go to your room, now!"
Layla placed a paw on her cheek as her blue eyes filled with tears. "No! I won't! You lied to me, to everyone! Why did you get rid of him but not me? I was an accident too wasn't I? You didn't want me either, but you kept me for show!"
"That's not true!"
"Than what is mother? or should I even call you that?"
Anitra turned back to Nathaniel, "I have heard enough from both of you, Now you get out of my house, and Layla if you hate me so much go with them."
"Fine. " she stepped down by her half brother and said to him, "I'll be right back I have to go find someone."
While Lady Galedeep was causing a scene in front of the other nobles by fighting with her children, a small group of assorted vermin gathered at the back of the room planning to get the royal and highly valuable, Galedeep family jewels. A weasel named Xander was the one who came up with a brilliant idea in the vermin's eyes. "We need 'ostages! Close in family if at all possible. Dat otter gal in da dark blue dress is da daughter. I heard Now I 'eard she 'ad a son too, but he looks strong don't mess with 'im. He got a little wife with 'im though. She'd be a good 'ostage."
Their leader a stoat said, "Alright, you three go after da maid. The rest 'o ye spread out amongst the crowd and with my signal draw weapons. Leave the talkin to me."
The vermin went out to fulfill their duties. Layla went up to Algernon who was talking to Rose. "Pardon me sir. Come on Rose."
She took the young ottermaid by the arm and went along the edge of the room with her. "Where are we going?" asked Rose.
"Away from here. My mother has been causing a scene.Apparently some long lost brother of mine decided to show up and she refuses to claim him."
She pulled Rose out of the ballroom and into the hallway. "Take off your mask. You need the full range of your vision...Stay close to me."
"Why are we in some sort of danger?"
"No, I just want to avoid causing another scene."
Rose nodded in understanding. They began walking back into the ballroom, but they didn't see the two vermin sneaking up behind them. Both vermin covered their mouths to suppress surprised screams and bound their paws behind their backs. Rose bit down hard on her assailant's paw and ran out of his grasp yelling, "We're being attacked!"
Chapter 4 ~The Battle~
Nathaniel pulled a knife out of his boot and gave his cutlass to his wife. "You'll need this."
She nodded. The captain looked up and gasped as he saw his daughter being chased across the ballroom. "ROSE!"
She ran towards him. "Daddy!"
He caught her in his arms and cut the ropes binding her paws. He then gave her the knife. "You can use that right?" he asked.
"Of course I can. I learned from you remember."
The three stood back to back ready to fight. Vermin came out of the crowd with weapons drawn. Their leader the stoat came forward with a rapied in his paw. He pointed the weapon at Rose. "You will pay for that missie."
Rose bared her teeh to show him that she wasn't going anywhere without a fight. Her eyes turning scarlet with bloodwrath. "You won't touch her!" yelled Nathaniel. "What do you want?"
The stoat smiled evily. "Isn't it obvious? I came here for the most priceless jems in all of Port Kendall. The Galedeep family jewels."
"You aren't getting them." said Anitra sternly.
"No? Perhaps this will change your mind. Bring her here Mikael."
A ferret came forward with a bound and gagged Layla. A dagger dangerously close to her throat. "Your daughter, lady Galedeep. She is the next family heir am I right?"
Anitra said nothing and Captain Nathaniel turned to her in a rage. "What in hellgates are you doing? What's worth more: stupid jewels or her life?"
Lady Galedeep still kept silent. Nathaniel turned to a young otter servant and grabbed him by his shirtfront. "Get me those jewels. I will not watch my sister be murdered."
"Y...Yes sir!" studdered the servant.
He was released and went to go get the jewels. The stoat didn't want to deal with the three warriors anymore and said, "I want those three taken care of."
his vermin comrades came at the Danisham family from all sides. They stood back to back slashing, stabbing, punching, and kicking. Clarice was getting tired fast since she hadn't picked up a sword since she was at Salamandastron. Her husband's sword was also very heavy. She had just slain a rat when from out of nowhere a weasel put a dagger in her side. she beheaded the weasel then dropped her sword. Clarice gasped as she touched the weapon protruding from her body but managed to put a paw around the hilt and pull it out. With a metallic clang the bloodied dagger fell to the cold marble floor.
She crumpled to the floor engulfed in pain, her vision blurring. Rose was the first to notice that her mother had been hurt and yelled, "Mom's hurt! Dad she needs help!"
Nathaniel finished off the last vermin attacker by snapping it's neck and throwing it aside. He knelt down by Clarice and gathered her in his arms. She let out a small scream from being shifted and was breathing heavily. "Clarice..."
"Nate...don...don't let me die. Don't let me die."
He held her close not caring about the blood staining his shirt. "I won't. I'll get you help. You'll be fine."
Algernon pushed through the crowd of nobels watching the scene. "Let me through! I'm a doctor!"
He made his way over to the couple and looked at nathaniel. "Set her down. I'll bandage her wound and you young man go kill that vermin."
The captain laid her down gently and picked up his cutlass. He stood and glared at the stoat. The vermin leader just stood there nonchalantly. "I'm waiting for my jewels. Where are they?"
Just then the young servant came running into the room, but stopped at the sight of blood and massacred vermin. "Get over here!" Nathaniel growled. Scared of the big sea otter the servant came over and handed him a bag that was full of jewels.
The stoat held out his paw. "The Jewels please."
"let her go first."
The vermin shrugged then nodded to the ferret. The ferret put away his knife and pushed Layla away from him. The servant caught her and took the gag out of her mouth and undid the ropes binding her paws. Nathaniel threw the bag to the stoat and said, "I give you five seconds to remove yourself from my sight. One..."
The two vermin started to run but didn't get very far before the stoat was struck in the back with a dagger: killing him. The ferret named Mikael fell to his knees begging and pleading for his life, but it was no use blubbering to a bloodwrath beast. Rose killed him as well. Before she could do anymore to them Nathaniel grabbed his daughter and restrained her until she calmed herself. She struggled against her father who was almost three times as strong and when she saw that escape wasn't going to happen she stayed still as her eyes turned back to normal. The young maid broke into tears and Nathaniel released her. Rose sank to her knees, "What happened to me?"" she asked frightened.
The captain picked up his daughter and held her like a little child. "Bloodwrath darling. I'll explain it later, but first we need to get your mother some help."
Nathaniel kissed her cheek and set her down. Together they walked back over to where Algernon was making a temporary bandage for Clarice. She ground her teeth in pain as the badger tightened the bandage a bit more. "How is she?" asked Nathaniel.
"She needs stitches. And quickly. The wound is deeper than I originally thought, luckily the dagger didn't hit anything vital so she'll live. Where is Layla? I need her." Algernon said. "LAYLA!"
She rushed over, "Yes sir?"
"Take us to one of those spare rooms so my patient isn't lying on the floor. also get your medical bag and set out all of the materials, you know needle, thread, cotton, alcohol, the works. Also do you have any morphine with you?"
"No. Its all back at the clinic."
"Alright then bring up a bottle or two of scotch. the less pain she feels the better. Than I need you to get Marcus and bring some morphine. understood?"
Nathaniel gently picked Clarice up off of the ground and followed Layla out of the ballroom and upstairs to a guest bedroom. She took the fancy comforter off of the bed leaving plain white sheets. She said to put Clarice down on the bed then shooed Nathaniel out of the room slamming the door in his face. What was she doing? he thought. A while later Layla reopened the door and permitted him to enter. When he walked in he realized why he had been kicked out. Layla had helped Clarice get out of the ruined ballgown and into an old pair of pajamas that consisted of blue pinstripe pants and a similarly designed button down shirt. Also on the bedside table various tools were laid out. Different sized needles, black thread, Cotton, tweezers, a bottle of pure alcohol, A bowl of warm watr, a cloth, and rolls of clean white bandages. Algernon came in the room and sat in a chair beside the bed. He looked at Layla. "Go get Marcus."
She nodded and started to walk away but was stopped by Nathaniel. "Can you do a favor for me as well?"
"What is it you need?"
"Um...can you go to my ship? It's called the PHANTASMA, and find a blonde furred otter by the name of Jeremy. Tell him what's happened and tell him that you are there to get my sons. Oh and tell him that you need Willow too."
Rose was waiting outside of the room when Layla came out and shut the door behind her. "Layla?"
"Can I go with you? There's someone I want to see. He needs to know that i'm not dead."
"okay, lets get going."
The two maids left the mansion quickly and quietly. Out into the night they went to do the two beasts bidding.
Back in the room Nathaniel was holding Clarice's paw as Algernon took off the bandage and took a ball of cotton soaked in the alcohol and held it with the tweezers. "This is going to hurt. I'm sorry, but it's better than having a wound like this become infected."
He gently began to clean Clarice's stab wound and she screamed with pain. Nathaniel held her down so she wouldn't move and hurt herself more. He used one paw to make her look at him. "Look at me! Don't think about the wound. Clarice, you had three children, I know you can handle pain. Look at me!"
Tears fell from her eyes. "This is worse than giving birth."
"Clarice, just look at me. I won't let anything bad happen. Please breath and it'll be over."
Algernon finished cleaning the wound and started putting in stitches. Clarice was a little bit calmer ,but was still in pain. The badger doctor finished up by putting clean bandages over the stitching and pouring a glass of scotch. He gave the glass to Nathaniel. "Make her drink this. It'll help her forget the pain."
He held up her head and brought the glass to her lips. "I don't drink."
She sighed and took a sip. She made a disgusted face and coughed. "You can have the rest. I think i'll be fine."
"No. You need to drink all of it. Please Clarice...I know you're in pain. You need to do anything to ease the pain." said Nathaniel.
She sighed and let him help her drink. She finished off the drink and said, "How long will I have for recovery?"
Algernon patted her paw gently. "Only time will tell Mrs. Danisham. Your body should heal quickly, but as I said only time will tell."
"I appreciate your honesty."
The old badger smiled. "I'll let you rest. Let me know if you are having any severe pain or anything else."
Algernon left the room, leaving Nathaniel and Clarice alone.
Clarice laid back on the pillows, trying to relax and not think obout the lingering pain. Nathaniel lay beside her holding her paw tightly. He watched as she closed her eyes to try and rest. Nathaniel did something he hadn't done in a very long time. He prayed.
Chapter 5 ~Shadows and Regrets~
The coach taking Layla and Rose stopped first at the clinic where Layla got out and ran inside to get Marcus. It wasn't long before they both came out. Marcus had a black bag with him. They both climbed into coach and they were soon off again. this time towards the docks. "What's in the bag?" asked Rose.
"Morphine. Braw stuff tae handle pain. I understand dat you're mother is en need 'o this."
"Yes. She was hurt pretty bad."
"I'm sorry tae hear that lass, but i'm glad that ye found yore parents."
They soon arrived at the docks and Rose got out with Layla to find her father's ship. Captain Nathataniel's ship was at the end of the pier next to a large cargo carrier that made the little schooner look like a toy. The PHANTASMA had been built more for speed than for cargo. The gangplank had been raised for the night, but this didn't bother Rose. She grabbed onto the ropes on the outside of the ship and pulled herself up and onto the ship. Layla reluctantly followed her neice onto the ship. When both of them were safe on the maindeck Rose told Layla to stay where she was. Rose quietly went down the stairs of the galley and just as she was about to turn into the room she heard Jeremy and Willow immersed in a serious conversation. she peered through a knothole in the wall planks and saw Jeremy sitting at the small table while Willow was standing, paws on hips. Jeremy just looked at her. "Willow...I...I"
"You what? Are you not happy for me? For us?"
"Of course I am, but..."
Willow stepped away from him and shook her head in disbelief. Her eyes filling with tears. "You don't want the baby?"
She placed her paws on her stomach protectively.
"Will you just listen to me?" asked Jeremy. "I do want it. I'll do anything for a family.I'm just not sure i'm ready to be a father. After everything that happened with Molly..."
"Jeremy, that is in the past! I'm still hurt by what happened but i've moved on! I'd like to focus on now; the future even. We could have a family."
Jeremy sighed. She didn't understand what he felt. His heart still ached from the loss of his firstborn. He stood up and wrapped his wife in a loving embrace. "I hate to see you cry. I'm sorry for upsetting you, I'm very happy for us and the baby."
Will put her head on his shoulder. "You mean it? You're really happy?"
He kissed her forehead. "Yes.
They stood there in each others embrace. Rose smiled.Peace had been restored once more between the two. She started to go down the steps again, but tripped over a bootlace and tumbled to the bottom of the stairs. Jeremy ran over to her and hauled her up off the floor. "Are you alright? What happened....ROSE!"
Willow hugged her. "Oh Rosie! We thought you were dead! Where's your parents?"
"Actually thats why i'm here. my father is with my mom. He sent me to come get you with my aunt."
Rose nodded. "My dad found that he has a sister. Well a half sister. Anyways mom was hurt by a vermin and is being treated by a doctor right now. Dad wants you Will to come check on her because I don't think he trusts the doctor."
"Alright. Did he want to have you bring the boys?"
"Yes. I'll go get them. Meet me above deck and we'll leave."
The two nodded and got ready to leave.
Rose went back above and got her brothers from Boom and gave them to Layla while she went belowdecks to find Canvas. Below decks it was dark and the sound of snoring beasts filled the air. Rose walkede along the rows of bunks until she came to one in the middle of the ship. There Canvas lay on his back. Mouth wide open and snoring, one arm dangling off of the side, and his breath still laced with alcohol. Rose sat on the side of hammock beside him and brushed his long fur away from his eyes. He was so peaceful asleep, child like even. She shook him anyways. Canvas groaned and opened his eyes. "What do you want Renji?"
Rose laughed. "I'm not Renji. Canvas don't you recognize my voice?"
"Rosie...you're alive? You're alive!"
He sat up and pulled her close to him. Tears of joy ran down is face. "You're alive! Oh Rosie...there's something that I have to ask you."
"What is it?"
He took off the woven cord around his neck and took one of the rings from it. "Rosemarie Danisham I have been in love with you since the first day we met and became friends as children...will you...will you marry me?"
Rose didn't know what to say and could barely choke out a "Yes."
She kissed him and let him put the ring on her claw. "Canvas, Will you come with me. I have to get back to the Galedeep mansion because my mother was injured in a fight. Perhaps there you can talk to my father about the wedding?"
"You and I both know that your dad doesn't like me."
"It's not that he doesn't like you...he just...He wants to protect me."
Canvas sighed, "I'll come, but only because you asked."
The two of them went abovedecks and noticed that the others had already gone down to the coach. Canvas grabbed onto a loose peice of rigging with one paw and put his other arm around Rose. She knew what he was thinking of doing and she didn't know if it was a really good idea, but before she could say anything they were swinging down to the pier. Rose was terrified and clung to Canvas. She still was a bit frightened as her paws touched the ground, but somehow she made it to the coach and squeezed in beside layla. Layla had Adrian on her lap while Jeremy held Coty. 'Willow must want him to practice holding a baby.' thought rose.
Canvas introduced himself to Layla and Marcus. After everyone knew each other they started back towards the Galedeep estate.
As they were coming up to the mansion Layla saw another carraige already there. "Oh no." said Layla.
"What's wrong?"asked Rose.
"My Father, he wasn't supposed to be back from his business deal until next week. He's not going to be happy when he finds out what happened."
"Rose, was there more that went on besides your mother getting hurt? I'm not taking Will or your brothers into something dangerous." said Jeremy.
"Just some vermin trying to get their way, but i took care of them."
Their coach stopped. Layla jumped out and turned to Marcus. "I'm going to try and reason with Father. Go around to the back to get in the house and Rose can show you where Mrs. Danisham is."
The old highlander nodded and said, "Be careful lass."
Layla ran up to her father just as he began to ascend the steps to the door. "My lord!"
He turned to look at her. "What are you doing out in the dark Layla?"
"I was waiting for you to...to come home. And it's such a nice night out I don't think i've ever seen the stars so clearly."
Lucian Galedeep rolled his eyes. "A young maid like you should be inside. There's more strangers in the dark than there is in the light."
"But my lord..."
"No excuses. lets go inside."
Layla stood in front of the door to block his path. "What in hellgates has gotten into you child? Let me into my own home. What are you trying to hide?"
"Um...uh...Mother had a party and lets just say it wasn't pretty"
"Anitra did what! Move out of my way girl."
He pushed Layla aside and entered the estate, storming down the hall to the ballroom.
Lucian stopped abrubtly at the end of the hall as he saw the damage and destruction in the ballroom. "Where is Anitra?" he asked in a low growl.
Lord Galedeep whirled upon his daughter and grabbed her by the arms roughly. "I shouldn't have to repeat myself! Where is your mother?"
Layla was frightened by her father's rage. He was really starting to hurt her, what if he tried to kill her? "I don't know where she is! Father you're hurting me!"
He pushed her against the wall. "You think that you can lie to me? I know you know where Anitra is."
Suddenly glass shattered around them. Lucian released Layla, staggered a bit and then fell. Behind where he had been standing , stood the otter servant from before with a part of a broken vase in his paws. "M...Miss Layla. Are you hurt?"
He went over to her and tried to put a paw on her shoulder, but she shrank away. "I'm fine. Hey you saved my life earlier. What's your name servant?"
"Um...Nico. Nico Jenkins-Strong. Miss are you sure that you're alright?"
He had caught Layla rubbing her arms where she was sure that bruises were forming. "I'm just shaken up is all. I appreciate your concern Nico."
"At least let me escort you to your room. I wouldn't want anything else happening to you."
"Alright, but please drop the formalities...just call me Layla."
He nodded. "Just Layla it is then."
Nico escorted her to her room and insisted that he stay unless lord Lucian decided to come for her. Layla reluctantly agreed and plopped down on her large canopy bed. "Nico?"
"Huh...what is it?"
"Thank you for saving me...twice. Um...i'm sorry for not knowing your name earlier I usually know all of the servants. Did you just start working here?"
"You're welcome. And I just started here a few weeks ago. Being a servant seems to be a family business."
Nico went to sit down beside her. "My father is a butler for a very wealthy vermin family. The Skeltons to be exact. The head of the household used to be a warlord. Seems hard to believe that goodbeasts like ourselves are still working under the power of vermin."
"He probably gets paid well." said Layla.
Nico nodded. "Yes, he used to send the money back to my mother before..." he paused, "Before she got sick. Dryditch fever hit our village. My brother and I were lucky enough to stay healthy. After she died my brother and I left home and I ended up here looking for work."
Layla squeezed his paw, "I'm sorry to herar that." she said.
Nico stood up. "Don't worry about it. Oh I believe that these belong to you." He took a bag of jewels from the pocket of his jacket and handed it to her.
Layla smiled and went to go put the jewels in her jewelery box. She then went over to Nico and surprised him by giving him a hug. "Thank you for everything you've done for me."
He came out of his shock and hugged her back. "You're welcome."
As directed by Layla, Rose and the others entered the mansion through the back and went up to the third floor where Clarice was being treated for her wound. Just as they came to the room Algernon and Nathaniel walked out. Nathaniel looked tired and stressed. Rose ran up to him and asked, "How is she?"
"Resting. Thank you for bringing your brothers."
Jeremy handed Coty to Rose. "Nathaniel may I speak with you for a moment?" he asked.
The captain nodded then said to his daughter, ""Help Willow with your brothers. I'll be right back."
The two left and Willow and Rose went into another guest room to put the exhausted young ones to bed. Canvas went with them leaving Algernon and Marcus in the hall. The old highlander looked up at the badger doctor and said, "I brought the morphine. Where do ye want it sir?"
"If you go into the room there's a small bedside table that you can set it on. Be quiet when you go in there, my patient is resting."
"Aye, i'll be as silent as a whisper." replied Marcus.
"I'll be in the library down the hall." said Algernon as he walked down the hallway.
Marcus shrugged and entered the room. The only source of light came from a candle on the nightstand so he used it as a guid to get across the room. He set the bag on the nightstand and took out three small vials of clear liquid, which seemed to glow in the candle light. Being a curious creature Marcus wanted to know who the patient was and turned to look at her. The otterwife's face was illuminated in the soft glow of the single candle. Marcus's eyes widened as he did a double take to make sure that he wasn't seeing things. No...It couldn't be! Could it? The highlander sank to his knees in disbelief. The face looked the same and there could never be a creature with the exact same features. There was only one explanation...she was alive. Regret filled tears formed in his eyes. "Temperance..." Marcus whispered.
He slowly stood up and took one last glance at her before leaving the room and going to the library to tell Algernon that he had found his lost daughter.
Nathaniel stood on the third floor balcony listening to Jeremy tell him what had happened to the crew. As the first mate stopped talking, captain Nathaniel said, "We'll just have to hire on some new crewbeasts. There has to be some creatures in this port who're lookin' for work. Has anything else happened?"
"Only things concerning Willow and I."
Nathaniel gave him a puzzled look. "What's going on? Is she sick again?"
"No." Jeremy leaned on the railing and looked down at the ground below, "She's pregnant."
"What? How? I thought she was barren."
The blonde furred first mate shook his head in frustration. "I don't know how its possible either, but the proof is there. I'm not going to question her. I just hope the end result will be better than last time. Seeing Algernon here has brought back so many haunting memories."
"So you know the doctor?"
"Nathaniel you idiot, of course I know him. He was the one who helped Willow deliver Molly. That was the last time we've ever stopped for supplies from Port Kendall. I can remember that night as if it had happened yesterday..."
The 9th day of spring 16 seasons ago...
A storm had blown in off of the sea just as the ship PHANTASMA pulled into Port Kendall. A young crewbeast's wife had just gone into labor and he needed to get her to a doctor fast. She winced in pain as he lifted her up into his arms. "It'll be alright Will, I promise. August cover her with that blanket. it's pouring out htere!"
Willow's brother August put a blanket over her to sheild his younger sister from the freezing rain that they would soon encounter. Jeremy carried her up the steep stairs and out onto the deck of hte ship. He held her tight as he ran down the gangplank and across the pier to make it into the small town. She groaned with pain as her contractions became a bit faster. August ran up to the neerest local, a shopkeeper, and grabbed him by his shirtfront. "Where is da neerest doctor? My sister, she having child." He said in his deep accent. He wasn't used to speaking English. He always spoke in the peculiar slave language that only his sister understood. The shopkeeper squirrel looked at Jeremy who held his wife in his arms. They were both soaked and she looked like she was in tremendous pain. "Up on that hill there lad. that's where the doctor lives. Take her there and he'll help her."
August released the squirrel and thanked him. Together he and Jeremy managed to get Willow to the doctor's clinic, but the door was locked. August beat on the door shouting, "Wak'ed Wak'ed! E' he'p me sis."
The lock clicked on the door and it opened to reveal a huge badger. "What in the world is going on?" he asked.
"Please help us, my wife she is with child and its time for it to be born. Please sir."
The doctor realised the severity of the situation and quickly ushered them into the clinic where he lead Jeremy to a small room. He gently laid Willow on the bed and took her paw and said. "He won't let me stay Will. I'll be right outside okay?"
she looked at him with frightened eyes. "No no. Jermy stay. Will need Jermy! Stay!"
"The doctor is going to help you Will. I'm going to wait with August. Be strong my darling."
She nodded reluctantly as he brushed a tear from her eye. She winced as she said, "Willow be brave. Brave for Jermy."
Jeremy kissed her and got up and headed for the door. Once outside the room he began pacing the hall worrying about her. Willow was so small, would she survive? Would the child be okay? It was really early for it to be born. He jumped as he heard her scream in pain. The blonde furred otter covered his ears and shook his head. He hated knowing she was hurting and it was all because of him. He paced faster. August eventually became annoyed by Jeremy pacing back and forth non-stop and he grabbed him by the tail of his shirt and forced him to sit. He wanted to tell his distraught brother in law that everything was going to be okay, but he couldn't find the right words. Instead he spoke in shaky English, "Will be okay. she brave, she strong. No worry Jermy."
Jeremy sighed and took a few deep breaths while running a paw through his headfur. "I hope you're right"
Willow let out another scream Jeremy clenched his teeth. He couldn't take much more of this. How long did it take to birth a child? Another bloodcurdling scream came and then there was silence. He was surprised to hear that the screams, yelps, and groans had stopped. was she alright? The door opened and the badger doctor and his astant came out. The badgers sleeves were spattered with blood which made Jeremy sick to his stomach. He stood up and asked, "Is she alright?"
"Yes, she's resting. Poor thing is exhausted. How old is she, I know she has to be young but with all the scars it's hard to tell."
"She's seventeen. How is the child? I'd like to see him."
The assistant looked down at his footpaws shamefully and the badger sighed. "It's a her. unfortunately she didn't make it. She was stillborn." Jeremy felt as if he had been stabbed. No this couldn't be happening!
"Does my wife know?" he asked.
Jeremy pushed past the doctor and entered the room. Willowwas still breathing heavily as he sat down next to her and grabbed her paw. "Willow darling I was so worried. Are you alright?"
She forced a smile through her pain. "I have suffered worse. Where is my baby? doctor wont let me hold her."
Jeremy hung his head sadly, his sapphire eyes glistening with tears. "Will...the badger said that our child was stillborn."
A look of horror crossed her face, "No...no Jermy! Not true! Not my little one no!"
neither of them saw the highland otter assistant come back into the room and pick up a small bundle. He went over to Jeremy and tapped his shoulder. "I'm sorry." Was all he said as he gently handed him the bundle.
Jeremy pulled back the blankets to see an undersized sea otterbabe with sleek chestnut colored fur, a pink nose, and tiny paws. She would've been cute if he wasn't holding her cold, limp, lifeless body. He hugged her close, a few tears escaped his eyes. "Jermy..." Willow squeaked.
He carefully handed her the babe and watched as she Cradeled it in her arms and kissed its head. whispering over and over with tears streaming down her face, "My babe...my babe....my babe. why?"
He stayed with her for the rest of the night; mourning the loss of their daughter. The next morning Jeremy went with August to bury the babe in the cemetery behind the little church. They put her beneath a blossoming tree, the small tombstone engraved saying...Molly Halloway, A life that wasn't allowed to live.
Nathaniel turned to look at his friend. "Jer...I had no idea..."
"Don't take pity on me," He started walking away, but paused. "It was mine. It's my fault that she had to suffer through another death."
Jeremy went back inside leaving the captain to his thoughts. Nathaniel had never realized how much surpressed anger Jeremy had inside of him. He couldn't even begin to imagine what it would've been like to lose a child. He had lost Rose once, but he had found her again. What is she had died? What would he have done? What if he lost Adrian, Coty, or even Clarice? There would be no point to life. Nathaniel shivered, but wheather it was from the falling snow or something else he didn't know. He went back inside the estate and started down the hall to go back to Clarice's room, but heard voices coming from around the corner. Nathaniel kept walking until he almost literally bumped into Rose and Canvas. The young otter immmediately let go of Rose's paw and tried not to look nervous. Rose smiled at her father. "Daddy, why are you up so late?"
"I should be asking the same thing. And why are you with him?" He asked.
"We were just talking."
The captain glared at Canvas. "Go to your room Mr. Waveryder. I wish to speak to my daughter alone."
Rose gave Canvas a reassuring smile and went with her father. "So, what did you want to talk about daddy?"
"I hate to keep you up, but do you still want to know about bloodwrath? I know you were frightened earlier and...i'm sorry you had to go through that."
Rose stopped walking and looked up at her father. "Dad, can't we have this talk later? I mean it only happened once."
Nathaniel looked at her sternly. "it'll happen again."
"How do you know?"
"I know because I suffer from it."
This shut Rose up. The captain continued explaining. "Bloodwrath has been passed down for many generations in the Danisham line. It's a rare disease that doesn't usually show itself until you're life or the life of someone you care about is threatened. I found that I had it when I was around your age, maybe a season or two younger. Anyways I got into a fight with a ferret..."
"What about?" Interrupted Rose.
"Don't you mind what it was about. Now stop interruptin' yore dad. Anyways when that corsair decided to pull a knife on me he wasn't expecting me to go beserk. I kept fighting even though I was hurt all over. I didn't know what had come over me until I had killed the ferret. After that I blacked out from the pain and loss of blood. When I woke up I found that I had lost my eye."
So that's how it happened. Thought Rose. "That's a great story, but it doesn't explain how to control bloodwrath. What do I have to do?"
"I'll show you later. I don't want to keep you up and its already very late."
Nathaniel looked at his daughter and managed a small smile.He wished that he could tell her everything about the bloodwrath, but not even he knew a lot about it. While looking at her he noticed something shiny on her paw. "What's on your paw Rosie?" he asked.
"Alright, alright! It's just a ring. You want to see?"
She held up her paw to show off the plain gold ring. Nathaniel furrowed his brow in confusion. "Who gave it too you?"
"Well...I was going to wait to tell you, but I might as well say it now," she took a deep breath, "Um...Canvas proposed...and well I...I said yes."
"What!! Absolutely not! You are much too young to be thinking about marriage!"
"But daddy! I love him!"
"Did he say that he loved you back? Of course not, he only has lust for you. He doesn't make enough money to support you not to mention a family."
"He does love me! And besides wouldn't you want me to be happy?"
He sighed. "You are my only daughter. If anything would happen I wouldn't ever forgive myself."
"You're just saying that so I wont go through with this! I am not a little girl anymore so don't try to control my life!"
"That is enough! I will not tolerate being talked back to Rosemarie!" he yelled.
"I hate you."
Rose stormed down the hall, infuriated by him. Who did he think he was trying to control her life? She was going to get married to Canvas wheather he liked it or not.
Nathaniel punched the wall causing a few paintings to rattle. Cursing under his breath every profanity that he knew. (Which is a lot). Why was Rose being so stubborn? She had never acted up like this. Was she acting like this because of some boy or was it that he had yelled at her? He had never yelled at her before. Come to think of it he had never punished her for anything. When he held her for the first time he had silently vowed to never do anything that would upset her. He punched the wall again and felt the all too familiar burning sensation behind his eyes. Nathaniel was so angry with himself that he was having trouble to control the bloodwrath. He stormed down the hall towards Clarice's room. While coming into the room he was surprised to see that she was awake, but not surprised enough to bring him out of his mood. Apparently she noticed that he was troubled because she asked, "Darling, are you alright?"
The captain grunted and kicked off his boots. He pulled off his bloodstained shirt and jacket and went to go lie down beside Clarice with his back to her. "Nathaniel..."
"I don't want to talk."
She put a paw on his shoulder. "Alright, i'm not going to force you to talk."
He rolled over to face her"How're you feeling?"
"Useless. I can barely move without severe pain. That and i'm starving. That badger hasn't let me eat anything yet."
"You mean he didn't give you any medicine?"
"I was asleep. Anyways I think I can handle the pain for a little while. Get some rest you look exhausted."
He kissed her cheek. "You have no idea."
Chapter 6 ~Temperance O'Leary?~
Layla awoke the next day a little before noon. She went over to her mirror and wanted to cry at what she saw. Deep black and blue bruises covered her arms where her father's paws had been. She gently rubbed one of her arms as she recalled the other injuries she had received from him in past seasons. Once when she was thirteen seasons of age he came home so drunk that he hit her mother and then just full out attcked herself. There was nothing she could do to defend herself from him. Luckily a few brave servants pulled him off before he killed her. Layla had escaped with her life, but there were many severe injuries. Her arm had been broken, eyes blackened, and ribs cracked. After the attack she managed to sneak off the estate and go live with Algernon and Marcus. They were like uncles to her; uncles who actually cared about her. She sighed and went to her closet to pick out a green long sleeved dress and put it on. She went back to the mirror to make sure that the bruises were covered.
After making sure her injuries were hidden she went down to the kitchens for some lunch. While crossing through a hall she ran into her mother. Anitra looked as if she had been crying and she still wore the same dress from the night before. "Layla dear, I was looking for you."
"Your father and I need to talk to you. It's kind of important that you hear this."
"Alright, where is he?"
"In the ballroom. Follow me."
Layla went with her mother to the ballroom where her father stood barking orders at the local patrol hares that had come in to clean up the murdered vermin and at servants who were scrubbing the marble floors. Lord Galedeep turned to glare at them both. He walked over and said, "Let's go to my study."
The thre of them went upstairs to the grand study. Lucian sat in the chair behind the desk while Anitra sat in an armchair next to the desk. Layla just stood awkwardly; wondering what they had called her here for. Lucian cleared his throat. "Layla, Your mother and I have decided that our personalities are far to different and that we will never be able to get along or see eye to eye. To put it short...we are getting a divorce."
Anitra buried her face in her paws. Lord Galedeep rolled his eyes and continued, "Who will you be staying with? Me or Anitra? I'm staying here while Anitra is going to the mossflower mainland to live with some of her relatives. If you don't wish to live with either of us you can go live on your own. It's your choice Layla."
"Um... well I do have a place in mind as of where I want to live, but I need permission from the owner."
"The old Rosewood Manner. You know the old Danisham place."
"That home hasn't been lived in for years because the Danishams died out."
"No they haven't! My brother is a Danisham. He's here upstairs right now...um I can go get him if you don't believe me!"
Lord Galedeep raised in eyebrow. "A brother?"
"Yes...mother never said anything about him. Please let me go get him."
Layla hurried from the room and went to find her brother.
Clarice lay awake in bed trying to ignore the throbbing pain in her side and the growling of her stomach. Suddenly there was a knock on the door and a red furred otter came into the room followed by a black furred otter servant with a tray of food. Clarice's mouth watered at the sight of food. "Good mornin lass. How're ye feelin'?"
"Sore. Hungry. Unable to sleep."
The red furred otter nodded in understanding. "I'll let ye eat first then that pain can be taken care of."
"That sounds great."
Nico the servant put the tray on the bedstand and then helped Clarice into a sitting position before putting the food in front of her. "Thank you um..."
"Nico Jenkins-Strong miss. Enjoy your breakfast."
Nico left the room to get back to work elsewhere in the estate. Marcus pulled a chair next to Clarice. "Does yore 'usband want brekkist? I can have more brought up."
"Nathaniel can feed himself."
As she said this the captain rolled over in his sleep. His arm moved and knocked a cup of hot tea off of the tray and it spilled upon his wrist. He jumped up holding his burnt paw. "Yowch! Son of a seamonster who burnt me!"
Clarice looked at him while trying to hold back laughter. "You burnt yourself!"
Nathaniel scowled. "Lovely. Who's he?"
He asked looking at Marcus.
"I sir am Algernon's assisstant. Me name is Marcus."
"Well Marcus...I have a few complaints for you. Why didn't you give my wife the medicine. She's been in pain!"
"She was asleep. It wouldnae have helped much. Besides i'm gonna give her the morphine after she eats her brekkist."
"Nathaniel behave!" Clarice said.
Suddenly there was a knock on the door and Layla burst into the room. "I'm sorry to interrupt, but I need Nathaniel to come with me."
"Why's that sis?"
"I can explain later."
Marcus turned to the young maid. "Layla darlin, are yore arms botherin' ye?"
"Donae lie tae me missy. I know ye don't hold yore arms like that."
She sighed and rolled up the sleeves of her dress. Clarice gasped in horror. Nathaniel stared. Marcus just shook his head. "Who did that to you?" asked Nathaniel.
Nathaniel climbed out of bed and pulled on his boots. "I'll go with you. If that scum even tries to lay a paw on you he'll be sorry."
The two left the room. Marcus turned to Clarice. "Is he serious aboot threats?"
"Yes. Layla means a lot to him and he'd never let anyone hurt her. I think she reminds him of Rose."
Marcus smiled. "Miss Rosie is a very nice lass. She told me aboot you and how ye were abandoned as a babe."
"Did she really?"
"Aye. That story made me realize that not all was lost. Ye see I lost me daughter because her mother had gone mad. I never knew what happened exactly except that i'd never see her face again. I thought she were dead until I saw her..."
Clarice looked intrigued by the story. "Where did you see her?"
"Ah'm lookin' at her."
"That's impossible! How?"
"We have the same eyes...and I believe yore youngest son 'as red fur. I 'ave red fur. The connections are there lass."
Tears came to her eyes. She had a dad. A real one! "What was my birth name?" she asked quietly.
"Temperance...Temperance mae O'Leary."
"Temperance Mae..., she whispered, "My name now is Clarice Viktoria."
"I donae care what yore name is. I'm just glad to know yer alive."
She managed a smile.
Nathaniel went with Layla As they entered Anitra refused to look at him. Lord Galedeep watched him with curiosity. Finally he spoke, "You must be Mr. Danisham."
"Captain Danisham if ya don't mind."
"Very well captain. My daughter mentioned that she wanted to come live with you and your family at Rosewood Manor."
"Never 'eard of Rosewood, but I do have a ship."
Lucian looked at Anitra. "Anitra, will you and Layla leave? I wish to speak with Captain Danisham."
The two females left the room and Lucian folded his paws atop the desk. "Captain Danisham, My Layla wants to know if you'd be so kind as to let her live in your estate."
"Of course she can. She's my sister. Besides if I really do have a home in my name i'll let my friend stay too. His wife is expecting so i'm sure he'll want to be close to a doctor."
"I see." Lucian offered him a cigar, "Cigar?"
Nathaniel took it as Lucian lit one for himself. Nathaniel smelled it. "Sampetra tobacco. Good stuff, but highly illegal."
"I have my resources. How did you know where these were from?"
"The smell, and I too have my resources."
Lord Galedeep's eyes widened. "You're an illegal trader!"
"Aye and a very good one. Except for the one time I ran into a Mossflower trading ship. They searched my goods and found a few of these. Branded my wrist with some sort of seal to mark me as an illegal."
Lucian smiled and offered Nathaniel a match to light the cigar. Nathaniel refused. "My wife wants me to quit."
"Yes with three children."
"I see that the Danishas are really making a comeback. Do you ever discipline your children so they wont speak of the trading?"
"I would never lay a paw on any of them!"
"Then how do you keep them quiet?"
"Do not judge how I raise my family. From what i've seen you aren't very good at it!"
He looked confused. "What?"
"Layla has bruises all over because of you! I call that abuse not discipline!"
"You obviously don't understand how much trouble that girl is."
"She is no trouble!" Nathaniel stood and pounded a fist on the desk. "If you hurt her again I swear..."
"You swear what?"
"You'll have to deal with me!"
"Don't make me laugh."
Nathaniel grabbed an ornamental sword off the wall and held it underneath Lucian's chin. "Are you laughing now?"
The captain stabbed the sword into the desk and walked out.
Rose woke up next to her brothers. She shook Adrian awake and he sat up groggily rubbing his eyes. "Rosie...I want mamma." He whined.
"Shh. I'll take you to her."
Rose got out of bed and picked up her baby brother then took Adrian's paw. Together they walked down the hall to where Clarice was. The ottermum's face brightened with joy as her children walked into the room. "Mamma!" yelled Adrian.
He climbed onto the bed and hugged her carefully. Clarice ruffled her son's headsfur. "How is Coty?" she asked.
Rose handed the babe to her mother. "I'll talk to you later mom. I'm going to see Canvas."
Rose nodded and left the room. She went down the hall and went to Layla's room to grab her coat, then went down to the first floor and found canvas in a parlour with a glass of scotch. "Hey Rosie. What's wrong?"
She sat down beside him. "I don't think running away sounds so bad anymore."
He looked confused and put his glass down. "Are you sure? What happened to talking things out with your dad?"
"He won't listen. He yelled at me and practically said that I was forbidden to marry you."
Canvas took her paws. "Are you sure about this? I want you to be happy and I don't want to force anything upon you."
"It's my choice! and I want to be with you. Really I do!"
"when should we leave?"
"But you don't have any of your stuff."
"I don't need anything as long as we are together."
He smiled and kissed her paw. "We'll leave right away my love."
Rose stood and put on her coat, then paw in paw, the young lovers left the estate.
Nathaniel stormed back to Clarice's room. Algernon was startled and missed the vein he was going to inject more morphine into. "Yowch!" yelped Clarice.
"I'm so sorry Mrs. Danisham!"
He pulled the needle out of her skin and glared at the captain. "Captain Danisham what is the meaning of this?"
"We can't stay here. Marcus grab my sons. I'll help carry her to the clinic."
"Nathaniel what did you do?" Clarice demanded.
"I just about killed the head of the Galedeeps. He is not happy and will have us kicked out now quit arguing with me. Where is Jeremy and Willow?"
"Across the hall. I'll go get them." Algernon said.
The badger came back a few minutes later with the couple. "What's going on?" asked Jeremy.
"We have to go. Willow you stay here and help with Clarice. Jeremy go find Rose and Canvas. Also get Layla if you can."
He nodded and left to do the captain's bidding.Nathaniel waited for the doctor to give Clarice the painkiller before he picked her up. She winced as the stitches pulled on the wound. Willow and Marcus were kind enough to grab what little things the captain and his wife had before following them outside. It was freezing with the wind and it showed visibly between Clarice and Willow. Both females shivered uncontrolably. Marcus offered his scarf and coat to Willow who took them gratefully. When Jeremy finally came out with Layla he had few blankets with him. he covered Clarice with one and gave one to Willow who gave Marcus his things back. The thin otterwife wrapped the blanket tightly around her and her unborn child.Jeremy gave the final blanket to Adrian who was holding Coty.
"Where's Rose and Canvas?" asked Nathaniel.
"I couldn't find them! Nathaniel lets get the girls and your sons inside first. Canvas won't let anything happen to your daughter."
Nathaniel knew that Jeremy was right so the group went down the road to catch a carriage. All of them got on except for Layla and Marcus.
"Aren't you coming?" asked Clarice.
"We're going to look for Rose and Canvas. We'll come back to the clinic when we find them." replied Layla.
Canvas and Rose were walking down one of the many streets in Port Kendall. Canvas had an arm around his girlfriend and sighed contentedly. This was a rare time when he was alone with her and not having to worry about the captain.
"Canvas look!" Rose pointed to a ruby necklacwe in one of the shop windows. "Isn't it beautiful?"
"Um...yeah i guess."
She turned to look at him. "Is something wrong?"
"Rosie, i'll never be able to buy that. I can't just pull gold out of my pockets like your daddy."
"I know that."
He smiled. "It's getting cold. Lets go and get a drink."
"you had one before we left. And i'm not cold."
"Rosie, it'll be quick."
The two went into a nearby tavern and sat down. A ferret waitress came by and asked in a nasaly voice. "Can I get ye somethin'?"
"Yes one whiskey and a strawberry cordial."
The ferret nodded and went to go get the drinks. She came back soon with two glasses. "One whiskey for the handsome fella and heres your cordial girly."
Rose rolled her eyes. "Girly...girly my rudder."
Canvas chuckled. "She only called ya that because ya got a girly drink."
Rose glared at him and stretched out her arm to snatch his drink from him. Canvas looked surprised.
"Just let me try it!" she snapped.
"You won't like it."
The maid just rolled her eyes and took a drink. Her face was priceless as the burning liquid touched her tongue and went down her throat. Rose coughed and winced then pushed the drink back over to Canvas.
"That was disgusting! How can you stand to drink that?"
The male sea otter smiled. "I was raised on this stuff Rosie. I haven't lived a cushy perfect life like you have."
"My life is not perfect."
"Oh really? Ya still got two parents, all your siblings, and now ya got an aunt and a grandfather! You have everything that I don't! I killed me mum when she gave birth to me! My father hates me and my brother. He drinks all day. Mast left years ago just to get away and Boom is just....just very weird. I have had a hard life Rosie!"
Rose put her smaller paw on top of his larger one and looked him in the eyes. "Your life will get better. We will be together, married, with many children of our own! Canvas no matter what background you or I come from it will never stop me from loving you."
He hugged her close. "Oh Rosie..."
Outside the winds were getting stronger and more bitter than before. Marcus and Layla stumbled down the street through the cold. Their paws, rudders, and noses were numb. Marcus grabbed onto Layla's cloak and pulled her into the nearest shop which happened to be a tavern. Layla could feel warmth slowly coming back to her paws. She looked around and pointed to a table on the far side of the room. "Marcus there they are!"
The two went over to the table and Marcus glared at the two young otters. "Do ye know how much trouble ye've caused? Layla n' I 'ave been lookin for ye everywhere in the freezing cold! C'mon with us now!"
The two young otters got up shamefully and followed the other two out into the windy streets once more. "Marcus!" Layla yelled against the wind.
"What is it me girl?"
"I'm going back to the estate to grab a few things! I'll see you back at the clinic!"
Marcus nodded as she began walking the other way. "Alright Layla, a'll see ye then!"
The three made it back to the clinic that evening and after warming themselves by the fire they all went to their seperate rooms and went to bed. Marcus stayed awake in his study. His eyes betraying how worried he was. Layla had not come back yet. Had something happened to her or did she simply intend to come tomorrow? He didn't know and wouldn't rest until she came back safely.
Layla was in her bedroom packing some of her clothes into a carpetbag. She was folding one of her dresses as she heard her door creak open. She turned to see her father leaning against the doorframe. Lucian stared at her with his cool blue eyes. He took a step into the room and put his hands in his pockets. "Where are you going?"
Lucian went to stand behind his daughter. "You aren't leaving this estate."
Layla almost gagged when her father came to stand by her. He smelled as if he had bathed in alcohol. He had to be drunk. When Lucian Galedeep was drunk he was unpredictable. He talked normally, but he could snap at any moment if just one word offended him. Layla breath of whisky soaked air and turned to face him and look right into his bloodshot eyes. "I am leaving! I'm twenty three years old! I can come and go as I please!"
Lucian hit her.
Layla's face stung as she rubbed the spot where her father's large paw had come in contact with her face. involuntary tears sprung to her eyes and she backed away from him, but it was too late. Lucian had snapped and came at her again, grabbing her shoulders and slamming her into the wall. The breath was knocked from her lungs so she couldn't scream. She gasped and tried to squirm out of his grasp but he only dug his claws deeper into her shoulders. He snarled and bared his fangs. "You shouldn't have yelled my dear!"
"You're hurting me!" Layla screamed.
"It's useless...nobeast will come to save you...I sent all the servants home."
Lucian just laughed like a madbeast and threw her to the floor. The last thing that the young maid saw was a flash of claws, fur, and those crazed blue and bloodshot eyes before everything went dark.
Chapter 7 ~Broken Souls~
The next morning came with a glorious sunrise that shimmered off of the nearby ocean. Niko Jenkins-Strong stood on the great marble steps of the Galedeep mansion admiring it before he went inside to start working. He desperately wished that he had his sketchbook with him to capture this beautiful moment, but alas it was not to be. He sighed and took out his key to the estate and went inside. As he entered something made him feel strange. Where were the other servants? Usually the place was full of life, but this morning the halls and kitchens were silent and empty. Something was very wrong. He dropped his coat on the floor and cautiously went up the stairs to the master suite and peered in through the keyhole. He could barely make out the sleeping form of Lord Galedeep. So Lucian was home, but that still didn't explain the lack of life around the mansion. He went down another series of hallways to Layla's room.
This hall felt especially eerie. Usually you could hear Layla singing as she readied herself for the day, but today everything was silent. Perhaps she wasn't home. Niko continued down the hall until he saw something very disturbing. There on the wallpaper outside Layla's door there was a bloody pawprint. A large otter print by the looks of it, but it was smeared a little. Niko was suddenly worried and pushed open her door. He nearly screamed at what he saw as he walked in. "LAYLA!!"
Her body lay on the floor bruised and bloody. Her dress was ripped to shreds and her left arm was bent at an unnatural angle. Deep claw marks were gouged into her face. He ran and knelt beside her and lowered his head to her chest and watched as it barely rose and fell again. Her breathing was shallow and ragged. He lifted her into his arms and held her. Tears poured from his warm eyes at the sight. Who would do such a horrid thing to such an innocent girl? Niko stood up with her and hurried out of the room and down the stairs. He had to get her to Algernon and fast!
Marcus paced up and down the entrance hall to the clinic. Something wasn't right. Layla still hadn't returned like she said she would. Perhaps he was just worrying too much or maybe she had gotten sidetracked by something. Whatever it was it didn't stop the old otter from pacing. He ran a paw through his graying headfur worridly. Suddenly there were shouts to be heard outside the front door. "Open up! Its an emergency!"
Marcus ran to the door and opened it. What was there before him would haunt his mind forever.
Only minutes later Algernon was woken from his slumber to help with the emergency.
Marcus went up the creaky old steps to the third floor of Algernon's house and went into the attic room where his daughter and her husband slept peacefully. He hated to be the one that had to tell them what had happened. He went over and put a paw on his daughter's shoulder. Her eyes fluttered and she looked up at him. "Father? What is it?" she asked in a whisper.
Fat tears rolled down the highlander's cheeks. "It...its Layla....she...she's h...hurt. B...badly. C...can ye come d...down?"
Clarice nodded and shook Nathaniel awake and told him the news. His eyes widened and he quickly helped Clarice out of bed and went as quickly as he could down the stairs while supporting her. In the hall outside one of the operating rooms sat the otter servant from before. His head was buried in his arms and his clothes were stained with blood. Nathaniel put a large paw on his head. Nico looked up still sobbing. "C...captain...."
"Aye it's me....wh...what ha..happened?"
"I...I ....I don't know! I..f...found h..her and and...." He shook his head and buried his face again. It was too painful for him to describe Layla's condition.
Nathaniel Held Clarice closer as he pushed the door of the room open. A curtain had been drawn around the bed and Algernon came from behind it with his head hung low and the sleeves of his coat stained red the same as his paws. "Captain Danisham....She is unfit for visitors, but....Layla is your sister. I'll let you see her, but...you won't like what you see."
He pulled back the curtain to reveal Layla's broken body which was covered only by a thin white sheet. Her face was bruised and the claw marks had been bandaged over. Her ear was ripped and had bandages on it. Her breathing was still shallow and barely there. Algernon hung his head. "She has a broken arm, the left one, four fractured ribs, five broken. Her skull is cracked towards the back. Everything is bruised. I'm assuming that there is internal bleeding, but i've done what I can for that. Also....she was taken advantage of. It's a miracle that she's still alive."
Nathaniel and his wife stared in horror. Clarice started sobbing into his shoulder and he held her tighter. "I'm going to kill him." said Nathaniel. "He's going to burn in hellgates for this!"
The captain's eyes blazed crimsion with the bloodwrath. Clarice noticed and put a paw on his cheek. "Nathaniel! Please no...no!"
He took her paw gently and said. "She needs to be avenged...If someone hurt you or Rose....I love you Clarice don't ever forget that. Forgive me for this..."
He let go of her and started to walk angrily off. His eyes still red. He left the clinic without shoes, a coat, or a shirt. Snow swirled around him as he went to the Galedeep estate. All the while looking like a demon from a horror story.
Later that morning eceryone in the house learned of what had happened and they sat in silence in the parlor. Jeremy was so confused. So much had happened in such a short time. Why did everything bad happen to them? First Rose falling from the ship, the ship breaking, Clarice being stabbed, Nathaniel completely losing it during his meeting with lord Galedeep, and now this?! He stood up and left the room. He needed to take a walk. He needed to get away from all this darkness. Jeremy put on his coat and walked into the snow. He didn't know where he was going or why he was just going to get away. As fate would have it he found himself standing in a small graveyard behind a white painted church. He stood beneath a tree that looked thin and scaggly without it's leaves. He fell to his knees in front of a headstone. Carefully brushing the snow from it he read the name.
'A life that wasn't allowed to live'
'April 5, 1743'
He sighed. "Oh Molly what am I going to do. I'm so confused..."
He reached into the pocket of his coat and took out a small ragdoll that he had made many years ago before the birth of his daughter. He'd always hoped for a girl and was devistated when he lost her. Gently he put the doll on the head stone and stood up. As he started to walk away he noticed a glowing light from the corner of his eye. Jeremy turned around and almost fainted at what he saw. There on top of the grave sat a tiny otter child dressed in a white tunic with an orb of light around her. She stared at him curiously while hugging the doll close to her.
Jeremy was able to stammer.
The little kit smiled a bit and started walking towards him. Jeremy sank to his knees and tried to pull the spirit into a hug but his paws went right through her. She giggled and touched his nose. Oh how he missed her. Tears of joy and sarrow ran down in his fur. "Oh baby girl...Oh i miss you so much...!"
The kit nodded in understanding and put a tiny paw over his heart. "Yes,...I...I know you are always in there but...it's not the same."
Molly's spirit frowned and hugged him the best she could. She looked up at him sadly.
"I'll be back to visit before I leave baby. I'll bring momma too okay?"
She nodded and hugged the doll.
"You like the doll?"
She smiled and hugged it tighter. Jeremy smiled. "I do love you. Don't ever forget that. You have given me some hope again. I promise to be back."
The kit grinned and started to fade waving goodbye to her father. Jeremy waved back still crying. "Thank you my Molly...I needed to see you."
The sea otter stood up and wiped his tears with his sleeve. He had to tell Willow about this!
The air around the Galedeep estate seemed eerily still as Nathaniel burst down the door. No candles burned in their sconces or in the chandeliers leaving the many winding halls dark and shadowed. It was almost too silent as Nathaniel went up the grand staircase. All his senses were on high alert, but there was nothing to sense. Silently he drew his cutlass just in case. As he came to the top of the stairs and followed a hallway to the right he found a large ornately carved door in his way. This had to be the lords room. Who else would have such fancy decorating? Trying the handle he found that the door was unlocked and slipped inside the room like a shadow of death. A large four poster bed was set in the middle of the room and a figure lay in it. Nathaniel took his cutlass and raised it, but then a thought entered his mind. The lord Galedeep should suffer for what he had done. He should feel his daughter's pain.
The captain put the cutlass to Lucian's neck. "Prepare to meet your death...." he whispered into his ear. Nathaniel's voice got dangerously low.
Lucian's eyes sprang open and saw the figure standing above him and could feel the icy blade on his throat. "D...don't kill me! What have I done?!"
Nathaniel grabbed his shirtfront and yanked the older otter out of bed and threw him to the floor. "Beating your daughter till she is an inch away from her own death is not acceptable! She lays unconsious while healers work over her trying to mend her body and you don't even care. You wanted her dead from the start..."
Nathaniel's blood red eyes shown in the dark. "I hope you rot in hellgates for eternity!"
He had let his walls done and set his bloodwrath free. The monster inside finally coming out to rip and tear and kill! Lucian's screams and pleas for mercy were lost in the echoing hallways. Nobeast was there to hear. As the sun rose the next morning all was quiet except for the sound of blood dripping off of a sword. The captain snarled down at his victim who's eyes were still wide open in shock. His face deformed in a look of utter terror. "You deserved this. You brought the destruction down upon thyself." Nathaniel went and cleaned his sword on the bedsheets then took a black cloak from the closet and took his leave out the back entrance.
It wan't until late evening until the captain came back to the clinic. His eyes back to normal and his thick fur matted with dried blood. Clarice saw him as he came in and gasped. "Nathaniel! I was so worried! You..you're covered in blood!"
He looked at her through dull eyes. "It's not my blood. I'm going to wash up. What I set out to do has been done."
Clarice followed him upstairs to the washroom. "You...you did it? You murdered him?"
"I don't like to see it as murder, but rather a favor to my sister."
"But if you get caught you will be hanged! Nathaniel....I...I don't....I can't lose you."
"If you had a family member who was hurt that bad you would've killed too. Hanging is the last thing on my mind."
Clarice looked at her paws. "I'm just saying that..."
"I DON'T WANT TO HEAR IT!" His eyes flashed crimsion.
Clarice backed off her eyes full of fear. He had never snapped at her like that before. "Don't yell at me. Ever. Again."
She left the room quickly before he fully snapped.
Nathaniel gripped the sides of the wash basin. Looking at his reflection he saw how frightening he really looked with the red eyes and the blood... "I'm a monster."
Chapter 8 ~Dancing with the devil~
The morning silence was shattered by a bloodcurdling scream. Nathaniel jumped out of bed and ran down to the clinic to see both Marcus and algernon trying to hold down a screaming and thrashing Layla. Nathaniel ran and pinned her arms down by her sides. He tried to be careful of her injuries but it was hard to avoid them.
"Let me go!" she screamed.
"NO! Layla why are you doing this?!"
"Let me go! He'll come for me again I know it!"
"My father wants me dead! He'll come to kill me!"
Nathaniel sighed. "Your father is dead."
Layla's eyes widened. "He...he is?"
"Aye....your safe. Please be still you'll hurt yourself."
Layla cried tears of relief. "B...brother?"
He squeezed her paw. "I know, but everything will be okay. Algernon, Marcus, and I are here to protect you. I promise."
She forced a smile.
One month later.....
Layla woke up one morning and walked downstairs for breakfast. Algernon was busy with a patient, but Rose was there with her two brothers making scones.
She smiled at Layla. "good morning Layla! How are you feeling?"
"I'm doing better...i think," she said while touching the bandage on her face. "I haven't been feeling well."
"Maybe Marcus could take a look?"
"I'd hate to wake him."
Adrian finished his scone and then ran over to Layla with sticky paws and hugged her. "Aunty! Rosie makin' scones!"
She smiled at the young otter. "Aye they smell great."
"Aunty...you's be gettin' fat. You okay?"
Layla's eyes had widened and she stood stock still. "Y...yeah. I'm ok."
Adrian went back to his spot at the table and grabbed another scone. Rose looked worried.
"Layla, you want me to help you to go see marcus?"
"Uh...yeah...I'd appreciate it."
Rose nodded and told Adrian to watch their youngest sibling, Coty, who was on the floor playing with a wooden spoon and a few pots and pans.
Rose let Layla lean on her as they walked back upstairs to Marcus's study. They found him sitting in an armchair by the fire reading a lengthy tome entitled, The Anatomy of a Squirrel and Common Health Problems. Marcus looked up from his book when they entered.
"Ello gels! what can I do for ye?"
"Um...grandfather can you give Layla a check up? She hasn't been feeling well."
"Of course I can! Layla beuty sit ye down and i'll ave' a look."
Layla sat down in a chair.
Marcus got up and asked, "Where does it hurt Layla?"
"My stomach sir."
"Hmmm....how has it hurt?"
"Well...I've been violently sick in the mornings and I get headaches. Also I feel something there, something like a tiny object. Here feel!"
She grabbed his paw and put it on her belly. Marcus felt what was there and started crying. "L...Layla me girl...I'm sorry."
"What is it?!" she panicked.
"A baby..." he whispered.